Oak Creek South Routt third graders soared above the state average on a Colorado reading test but the students are still below what the school is shooting for.
Seventy-eight percent of Soroco third-graders are proficient in reading, compared to the 69 percent state average.
"We're really proud of the work our teachers have done to prepare for this," said Muriel Coyle, principal of South Routt Elementary School.
The students were tested using a Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) examination.
Soroco's score sits in the middle with other schools in the county. In Steamboat Springs, Soda Creek Elementary School had an 83 percent proficiency and Strawberry Park Elementary was 87 percent proficient.
Hayden Elementary school scored 71 percent proficient.
The scores in south Routt are the result of a customized reading program that teachers are using with the children, Coyle said. The program mixes the elements of phonics with the traditional "whole language" style of teaching, she said.
"We supplement (phonics) reading strategy with really good literature," Coyle said.
After the program began two years ago, third-grade students in south Routt improved their scores by 25 percent. The biggest improvement came this year with the children's 78 percent, which is 20 percent better than last year's score.
South Routt Superintendent Steve Jones is pleased with the results.
"It's marching along in the right direction," he said. "We're getting more kids reading and more kids reading earlier."
Despite some public dissent by Colorado educators about Gov. Bill Owens' plan to phase the CSAP tests into Colorado schools, Jones said that so far the tests have been positive for south Routt.
"So long as they are rigorous and fair, I'll support them and I think they have been so far," he said.
Though school officials are proud of the 78 percent mark reached by the 8- and 9-year-old students, they won't feel completely satisfied until at least 90 percent of students are proficient by the state's standards, Jones said.
He also knows students in all grades need to improve in other subjects.
In 1999, 42 percent of fourth-graders at the elementary school tested at proficient writing levels on the state tests. That was actually an improvement from 1997, when less than one-third of the students tested as proficient.
In March, the CSAP math test results showed 53 percent of south Routt fifth-graders were proficient. That was above the state average of 47 percent.
"We're going to continue to work on it," Jones said.
In July, results from the reading and writing tests that fourth- and seventh-graders took this spring will be released and Jones hopes to see some improvements.
In the 2001-2002 school year, all grades will take CSAP tests and Jones wants to be prepared.
"There won't be any place for anyone to hide," he said.
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