Local elementaries above state CSAP average

Strawberry Park, Soda Creek third-graders fare well in tests

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— Third-grade CSAP scores were sent back to school districts throughout Colorado last week, leaving teachers and students in Steamboat Springs praising their third-grade reading programs.

Overall, third-graders in the Steamboat Springs School District scored above the state average. Strawberry Park Elementary reported a 92 percent average compared to the state's 72 percent average and Soda Creek Elementary scored 79 percent.

Cherryl Sage, principal at Soda Creek, said parents, teachers, administrators and students can rest assured their scores will rise in the future.

"Our third-grade team did an incredible job. It's amazing at how absolutely mind blowing that progress is," Sage said of the five out of eight special-education students who scored at a proficient level. "We will get better."

Sage also said the school needs to look at what it's doing vs. Strawberry Park, who scored 13 percentage points higher than Soda Creek. Soda Creek's drop in 4 percentage points from last year is due to one child, Sage said.

Third-grade CSAPs test students on a variety of reading material and their comprehension of that material, which includes letters, poetry, text and stories. The test requires answers in multiple-choice format, as well as short and long response.

Students are scored individually as advanced proficient, proficient, partially proficient or unsatisfactory. These scores are used to look at individual growth and to observe a trend in the carrying capacity of the designed reading programs.

The Colorado Student Assessment Program, mandated for third grade by the state in 1998, requires that third-grade scores be returned to schools before the school year is over in order to determine if certain students require an Individual Learning Plan, or ILP.

For those parents wondering why they haven't received scores back for fourth through 10th grade, Judy Harris, director of content standards for the Steamboat Springs School District, said she hopes the beginning of June will bring the district the results they've patiently been awaiting.

Harris said the third-grade CSAP scores are indicative of the great education students are receiving.

"It's an important indicator of student achievement in reading, not only an indicator, but an important one," Harris said. "It gives us an indication of strengths of the program and gives us an idea of areas that need improvement."

Harris added that the CSAP is just one indicator of putting a student on an ILP.

The state requires that every child in the state be at least proficient in reading by the end of third grade in order to continue to a fourth grade reading program.

Harris said many times people get confused that students are not graduating to fourth grade. However, it only states that those students, who are on an ILP, will advance to the next grade level, but not the next reading grade level. An ILP stays with a student until his or her reading can accelerate to the appropriate grade level.

"The purpose is to focus on individuals and to accelerate their learning in reading," Harris said of Steamboat's program that begins as a reading program from kindergarten through third grade.

Harris said research also suggests that if students are not proficient readers by the end of third grade, that can affect the potential for learning.

Sage said these scores are not synonymous to classroom percentage scores. A 70 percent, usually a C letter grade in the classroom, is not the same percentage as a 70 percent CSAP score.

CSAP does not assess whether a student performed at a grade level, it determines how he or she performed against the standard, which is defined as 50 percent on national or standardized third grade tests.

On the state level over the last three years, third grade CSAP scores show an increase in percentages for proficient and advanced proficient.

Harris agreed that every district and school might have peaks and valleys, but the important data lies between the lines.

"We want to continue to improve student achievement (and) continue to focus on improving literacy in our district," Harris said.

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