We have said it before. Colorado Student Assessment Program test scores are not the only measure of the quality of our public schools.
Other factors -- post-graduate success, dropout rates, enrichment programs, extracurricular activities, teacher retention, per-pupil spending, etc. -- also must be considered when determining how well our schools are doing.
That said, CSAP results do provide an objective tool to measure how schools perform from one year to the next and to compare performance locally with schools across the region and state. The trends in CSAP scores, we believe, can highlight areas that need focus.
Scores were released last week. Here are specific items worth noting about the performance of Routt County schools:
Hayden saw scores drop across the board. Superintendent Mike Luppes said part of the problem is a coding error that resulted in only 42 percent of Hayden fourth-graders and 30 percent of Hayden fifth-graders scoring proficient in reading and only 23 percent of fourth-graders and 10 percent of fifth-graders scoring proficient in writing.
But the coding error can't account for declines Hayden showed in nearly every category at every grade level. What is important is implementing changes to reverse this year's trend. Hayden secondary Principal Troy Zabel discussed some of those changes, including more classes at the high school level, more extensive math offerings and tutoring programs that could become mandatory.
The bottom line is that Hayden parents should expect better, in terms of how their administrators code tests and how their students perform on them.
Soda Creek Elementary School saw its scores improve in almost every category, allowing the school to close the gap between its performance and the performance at Strawberry Park Elementary School. Since the implementation of CSAP testing, Strawberry Park consistently has scored extremely well on the test and did so again this year, with no lower than 82 percent proficiency in any category.
Last year, the gap between Steamboat's two elementary schools was more than 20 points in several categories. This year, Soda Creek's scores have improved to the point that the schools are on equal footing in reading and math.
Soroco schools continued to do extremely well on CSAP tests, posting the best scores in the county in fourth- and fifth-grade reading and achieving 100-percent proficiency in fourth-grade math. The scores are more evidence of the excellent job done by Steve Jones, who recently retired as the district's superintendent, and his staff.
Secondary math scores are disturbing. Statewide, only 30 percent of 10th-graders are proficient in math. Locally, the scores weren't much better, with Steamboat doing the best of area districts with 39 percent proficiency. Part of the problem is there are no repercussions for students who do poorly on CSAP tests, and high school students understand that better than elementary students. Perhaps we should consider proficiency on the 10th-grade CSAP as a graduation requirement.
Overall, CSAP scores for the schools in Routt County remain above state averages. As such, teachers, administrators, students and parents should be commended. At the same time, it's important that we use the test results as they were meant -- to identify areas of weakness and make changes to improve the quality of education offered to all students.