Oak Creek Soroco's fourth- and seventh-graders' reading and writing skills leave room for improvement, according to the Colorado Student Assessment Program spring test results.
For fourth-grade students, 53 percent were "proficient" readers, well below the state average of 62 percent. In writing, 32 percent were tested as proficient, which was below the state mark of 36 percent.
Local fourth-graders in previous years have scored better on both tests. Last year, 72 percent were proficient in reading, improving from the 1997 scores by 17 percent.
In 1999, 42 percent of fourth-graders were proficient writers. That was an improvement from 1997, when less than one-third of the students tested as proficient.
Seventh-graders did slightly better on their tests.
Fifty-six percent of Soroco seventh-grade students were proficient in writing, below the state average of 58 percent. But those students scored above the state average of 42 percent in writing with 44 percent proficiency.
By comparison, Hayden seventh-graders' proficiency was 71 percent in reading and 45 percent in writing. Thirty-four percent of Hayden fourth-graders were judged proficient or advanced in writing and 57 percent reached that level in reading.
Eighty-five percent of Steamboat Springs fourth-graders scored at or above proficiency in reading, and 55 percent did so in writing. Seventh-graders reached 76 percent in reading and 62 percent in writing. All of the Steamboat scores were well above the state average.
Soroco school officials have addressed the writing problem before.
"Writing is an issue in our school district, all the way through," Superintendent Steve Jones said in a past interview.
The elementary school has been experimenting with different instruction techniques.
Soroco's goal now is to begin raising the scores. If the school district's average scores are below 80 percent proficiency, then they must improve 25 percent in three years. If they don't, the district could be at risk of losing its accreditation, according to state regulations.