Board discusses state plan

New accreditation policy changes standards for CSAP scores

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— Steamboat Springs School Board members on Monday night discussed how to implement a new state accreditation plan designed to raise academic standards.

"How can you put an end result that is less than an expectation," Tom Sharp, treasurer of the board, asked during the workshop session.

"One Year's Growth, One Year's Time" the state's new accreditation policy begins next school year. In essence, the policy states each student should make one year's academic progress in one year's time, but the policy gives local school districts leeway in determining what one year's progress is.

The plan would replace the current state education standard that requiring all grade levels to reach 80 percent proficiency on the CSAP test. Superintendent Cyndy Simms said if grade levels were below this standard, 25 percent of students under the 80 percent mark need to be proficient after three years to meet state accreditation requirements.

Under the new policy, each grade level will be expected to maintain or improve their CSAP scores the following year. If grade levels fall behind in their CSAP scores, the school can be put on probation and be at risk of losing accreditation.

Simms said the idea behind the policy is to reach the ultimate goal of 100 percent academic proficiency in incremental steps. She noted that some grades in Steamboat Springs are already at 92 and 93 percent.

Paula Stephenson, board secretary, said she does not think it is realistic to expect 100-percent proficiency from all grade levels.

To give schools a sound direction in implementing learning programs that would foster an increase in CSAP scores, board members discussed revising the desired academic results they had for each school.

For example, board members discussed rewriting the desired result of "a student's ability to demonstrate values and citizenship appropriate for their age" to better indicate what kind of academic curriculum could be used to develop these skills.

Desired results are compiled by the school board and utilized by the Student Accountability Committee to make sure students are learning the material necessary to become proficient in all academic areas, Simms said. She said the committee has an action plan that includes an academic agenda that will teach students what they need to know.

Simms said members of the SAC will focus on what areas each school needs to work on to improve CSAP scores. The SAC consists of parents and school faculty members who can see first-hand the needs of the students and what learning tools or methods they need to achieve their highest learning potential.

To ensure the Steamboat schools are implementing material that is improving school academics, an audit by members of the community is performed. The auditors work with the SAC to report to the school board and DAC if the schools' learning objectives have been achieved.

The community audit is also apart of the school accreditation process and was implemented by the board as an extra tool for ensuring the academic success of the Steamboat schools, said Debbie Jensen, co-chair of the DAC.

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