Results mixed on school report cards

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The ratings of two South Routt schools dropped from last year, and three Steamboat Springs schools earned the state's highest rating on School Accountability Reports released Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Education.

Steamboat Springs High School, Strawberry Park Elementary School and the middle school at North Routt Community Charter School, in its first year of evaluation, were rated "excellent" on the reports, which use Colorado Student Assessment Program test scores to rank all of the state's public schools.

Results were mixed elsewhere in Routt County, and Hayden Valley Elementary School's jump from "average" in 2003 to "high" this year marked the county's lone improvement.

Steamboat Springs Middle School, Soda Creek Elementary School, South Routt Elementary School and the elementary classes at North Routt Community Charter School maintained their "high" ratings.

Hayden High School and Hayden Middle School scored "average" for the second consecutive year.

The two South Routt schools that saw their ratings drop where Soroco High School and Soroco Middle School. The high school, which scored "high" last year, was rated "average" this year. The middle school, which scored "average" last year, was rated "low" this year.

The five ratings assigned by the state are excellent, high, average, low and unsatisfactory.

School Accountability Reports, commonly referred to as school report cards, were compiled based on the results of CSAP tests taken last spring by third- through 10th-graders. ACT test results were used for 11th-graders. The ratings are for the 2003-04 school year. The state uses the reports as an accountability system to monitor and track the progress of its schools.

South Routt Superintendent Steve Jones said he was disappointed but not necessarily surprised by his district's scores. School districts received CSAP results earlier this year.

"It's always sort of a question about how the CSAP scores are going to convert to the School Accountability Reports," Jones said Thursday.

Soroco Middle School's "low" rating was expected given the CSAP scores of the district's seventh- and eighth-graders, he said. But he also said he was pleased that the school's eighth-graders improved in all three CSAP content areas for which they were tested in seventh and eighth grades. Jones predicted a better performance next year.

"I can promise you their School Accountability Report next year will be either average or high," Jones said.

Soroco High School's "average" rating was "a major disappointment," Jones said. The district is implementing a number of steps to improve student achievement in all content areas. The small school system has the right teachers for bringing the district to a higher level of performance, Jones said.

"We have an expectation that all three of our schools will be 'high,' and when they're not, we know we have to get better," he said.

The district's alternative school was rated for the first time, receiving a score of "low."

Given the school's low enrollment numbers and specific role, Jones said he wasn't too bothered by the rating.

All five Steamboat Springs School District schools scored the same as in 2003. The North Routt Community Charter School for the first time was rated for its elementary and middle school classes.

"I'm certainly pleased that we have two 'excellent' and three 'high' schools," Steamboat Superintendent Donna Howell said. "That's certainly consistent with the level of excellence of our schools. We have a very talented staff."

But the school report cards are just one piece in a "body of evidence" the district uses to evaluate its performance, Howell said. The district uses a number of student assessments, including CSAP tests, to measure student performance and to guide instruction.

Nevertheless, the district will continue to strive for improvement on CSAP scores and school report cards, Howell said.

"We're good, but we want to be better," she said.

Strawberry Park Elementary School was rated "excellent" for the third consecutive year and for the fifth time in seven years. School Principal John DeVincentis, in his last year with the district, credited his staff, students and their parents for the school's continued success. Steamboat Springs High School was rated "excellent" for the second consecutive year.

Similarly, Hayden Superintendent Mike Luppes credited Hayden Valley Elementary School's staff with helping the school increase its rating from "average" to "high." The district hopes its middle and high schools will make a similar jump next year.

"We're looking to achieve growth," Luppes said. "We want to continue to make progress at all our schools."

Like Howell, Luppes also stressed that School Accountability Reports are only one measure of achievement.

To view the complete reports, which include additional information about each school, visit www.cde.state.co.us.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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