Saturday, August 17, 2002
As we have said before, standardized tests should not be the sole measure of a school's performance. Still, the scores shown by Routt County schools on the Colorado Student Assessment Program are reassuring.
CSAP scores were released earlier this month. The Colorado Department of Education will use the scores to issue school accountability reports in the fall. For Steamboat, Soroco and Hayden, those reports will show our schools are doing what they should.
Steamboat schools scored above state average in almost every category at every grade level and showed improvement over last year's scores in a majority of the tests taken. In some areas 10th-grade math at the high school, fourth-grade writing at Soda Creek Elementary and eighth-grade science at the middle school proficiency rose 15 percentage points or more.
Similarly, Hayden and South Routt students achieved a greater percentage of proficiency than their peers statewide in many subjects and showed distinct improvement over last year.
As the test should, CSAP did identify areas where districts and schools still need focus. Seventh-grade reading scores in Steamboat dropped from 89 percent proficiency to 74 percent, and Soroco saw scores fall in reading and writing in the sixth grade.
All three school districts showed improvement in math, though all still have plenty of room for growth. Last year, all three schools struggled in math, particularly at the high school level. Only 18 percent of Steamboat students were proficient in math last year. Soroco and Hayden had lower scores.
This year, Steamboat's 10th-grade math scores rose to 38 percent proficient, well above the state average of 24 percent. Soroco and Hayden, which were below state average last year, scored at state average in 10th-grade math this year.
Still, the scores indicate more than 60 percent of Steamboat's 10th-graders and more than 75 percent of the state's 10th-graders aren't fully proficient in math. That tells us we still have a problem that teachers, parents and students must continue working to fix. And the Department of Education should continue to look at the math test to ensure it accurately covers material that is appropriate for 10th-graders.
But as long as our schools make the kind of progress shown in the past 12 months, then we can solve our math problems.
The increasing emphasis on CSAP scores places increasing pressure on our school districts. Give credit to students, teachers and administrators throughout the county for the way they have responded.