Hayden Hayden School District students scored at or above state averages in the reading portion of the Colorado Student Assessment Program tests but had more problems with the writing and math portions, according to results released by the Colorado Department of Education on Monday.
But while state averages are a good measuring stick to compare the district's schools against, recently hired Hayden High School/Middle School principal Troy Zabel said it's more worthwhile to compare with the students' scores in previous years.
"I think it's more valuable to be looking at scores against ourselves over time," he said.
Zabel had not reviewed the scores but said in general, he compares the scores of the same group of students from year to year instead of grade to grade to determine whether they are improving.
The state administers CSAP tests annually to monitor the achievement of students and schools. A school's test results factor heavily into how it's rated on state-ssued School Accountability Reports.
When comparing this year's test results to the students' results from the previous year, Hayden fourth-graders' reading scores -- which were better than the state average -- declined, with 22 percent fewer students scoring at or above proficiency than they did in third grade. Twenty-four percent fewer achieved those levels in writing.
Fifth-graders improved in both areas, especially in writing, where 20 percent more passed the test than when the group was in fourth grade.
The district experienced no improvement at the sixth-grade level, where students' scores dropped slightly in reading and more in writing and math compared with the year prior. Seventh-graders' math scores improved slightly, and 14 percent more students were proficient or better in writing. Seventh-grade reading scores, while better than the state average, declined.
Eighth-graders' scores increased in all areas except writing. Their most dramatic improvement was in reading, with 20 percent more students passing the test this year.
There was significant improvement in the high school where ninth- and 10th-graders' scores increased in most areas except writing, which experienced a decline at the 10th-grade level.
High school students' math scores, while better than last year, were below the state averages. Tenth-grade writing scores were also below the state average.
Elementary school principal and acting superintendent Mike Luppes was on vacation and not available for comment.
While comparing students' scores this year to their scores as younger students last year is more valuable, comparing grade levels from year to year offers insight into developmental issues that have either worked or not worked over a span of three to five years, Zabel said.
While CSAPs are "great tests," Zabel stressed that they are just part of an overall program of student assessment that includes the in-house Measure of Academic Progress tests or MAP.
"I think if you get so wrapped up in CSAP it really does draw morale down," he said.
Professional Learning Communities, a collaborative planning process between administrators and staff likely will be a significant component in accessing Hayden students' and meeting their needs, Zabel said.
Students will take the MAP tests this fall. Zabel and teachers will then meet to evaluate the results with CSAP data to determine academic goals and changes in the middle and high schools, he said.
Staff writer Brent Boyer contributed to this report.