Steamboat schools get graded today

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— The Steamboat Springs School District on Monday is planning to send out report cards to every parent in the district, but parents should not expect to find their children's grades inside them.
For the first time, area schools and every other Colorado school are required to send out report cards on how the state graded them. Those grades will be released today. As part of the Colorado School Accountability Reports, state schools will be given a rating of excellent, high, average, low or unsatisfactory, based on third- to tenth-grade CSAP scores and ACTs scores of juniors taken last year.
Morris Danielson, regional manager for the Colorado Department of Education, said the accountability ratings are a way for parents and teachers to gauge how their schools are doing.
"What the report card does, in fact it does a lot of things, but it never loses site that we do the best job we can academically," Danielson said.
Kelly Stanford, Steamboat's director of Content Standards, said though the state requires students to have a copy of the ratings between Sept. 17 to Sept 24, the school district has set Monday as the date to mail them out.
Because of mail delays from Tuesday's terrorist attack, however, Stanford said the reports could arrive to the district later then expected, pushing back the school's mailing date.
In August, Colorado schools received their students' CSAP and ACT scores, but today is the first day they will be compared to other schools and given a ranking.
Because it is the first year of the accountability ratings, the schools will be rated on a curve. Only three in 10 schools will be given an excellent or high rating.
"With our CSAP scores, we are feeling very positive," Stanford said. "But, with a curve it is going to throw a curve in how it is going to come out."
Superintendent Cyndy Simms said Steamboat Springs should expect a rating of either high or excellent in all its schools.
The top eight percent of all Colorado schools will be given an excellent rating and 25 percent of the schools will receive a high ranking.
Forty percent of the schools will be given an average rating and 25 percent will have a low rating.
If schools fall into the unsatisfactory category, the bottom two percent of the state's schools, they are required to submit a school improvement plan.
If a plan is not submitted, the State Board of Education could recommend that the school become an independent charter school.
Next year, Colorado will move away from the curve system and use the percentile cutoffs of this year as the benchmarks to establish the range of scores between excellent, high, average, low and unsatisfactory.
The report cards coming out Monday will have schools' ratings and compare it to the 10 closest schools in the region. Danielson said the state decided to include area ratings because of parent interest.
After Thursday, all schools' ratings will be posted on the state's Web site at www.state.co.us/
schools/index.html.
The report cards the children take home will also include information on the students performance on the CSAPs by grade level, the school's safety and environment, a taxpayer's report and school staff background.

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