Standardized tests are not the only measure of a school's performance. Still, it was nice to see the Colorado Student Assessment Program scores achieved last week by schools in Routt County.
Elementary schools in Hayden, Oak Creek and Steamboat Springs all saw their third-grade reading scores rise significantly.
Just to recap, here's how our local schools did in 2002 as compared to 2001:
Strawberry Park Elementary went from 92 percent proficiency to 93 percent proficiency.
Soda Creek went from 79 percent to 86 percent.
South Routt went from 82 percent to 87 percent.
And Hayden improved nearly 25 percent, going from 74 percent proficiency to 92 percent proficiency.
The scores are even more impressive when you consider that, statewide, just 72 percent of third-graders demonstrated proficiency on the reading test.
True, the numbers were for third-grade reading only. The remainder of the CSAP scores won't be released until August.
Still, the scores are noteworthy for several reasons.
First, few subjects are as important for elementary students developmentally as reading, a basic skill that students must master if they are going to be successful in the rest of their reading. It's certainly an encouraging sign that 9 out of 10 of our third-graders are where they need to be in reading.
Second, the improvement shown by Routt County schools demonstrates how seriously our administrators and teachers take CSAP performance. This is critical as the state continues to weigh CSAP scores more and more heavily in measuring school performance.
Finally, the test results provide objective and tangible proof that special programs such as new literacy programs in Hayden and South Routt are working.
We have pointed out before that the CSAP is a somewhat flawed dynamic. While the state puts heavy pressure on schools to raise scores, students have no incentive to do well on the tests. That's part of the reason last year's high school math scores were so dismal in Routt County and statewide.
It remains to be seen if those math scores along with scores in other subjects at various grade levels have improved.
But those numbers will come in a few months. For now, we should celebrate what our third-graders did in reading and offer our thanks to the elementary school teachers and administrators who helped get them there.