Student academic performance continues to be strong in Steamboat Springs, is improving in South Routt and is declining slightly in Hayden, according to new educational data.
The Colorado Department of Education released its annual School Accountability Reports for schools across Colorado on Tuesday. The reports rate schools on academic performance and growth, based on standardized test results from the 2004-05 school year.
School Accountability Reports can be viewed online at the Colorado State Board of Education Web site:
www.cde.state.co.us/index_sbe.htm Click on the "Accountability Reports" link.
Strawberry Park Elementary School, Steamboat Springs Middle School and Steamboat Springs High School earned overall academic performance ratings of "excellent," the state's top rating. Soda Creek Elementary School earned a rating of "high," the same rating the school earned last year.
Strawberry Park Elementary School and Steamboat Springs High School are the only elementary and high schools within a 75-mile radius to earn "excellent" ratings.
Although Strawberry Park's performance rating is the same as last year, the school earned an "improvement" rating for academic student growth, meaning more students scored higher on Colorado Student Assessment Program, or CSAP, tests than a year ago.
For the fourth year in a row, Colorado's education department named Strawberry Park a "John Irwin School of Excellence" for ranking in the top 8 percent of state schools in overall academic performance.
"We are really proud of our students, teachers and families," Principal Mark MacHale said. "We greatly appreciate the hard work of all involved."
North Routt Community Charter School received a "low" performance rating at the elementary level and a "high" rating at the middle school level.
Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Donna Howell said that with the small number of students in the charter schools, SAR ratings can be misleading because low scores from one or two students can have a large effect on school averages.
In South Routt, Soroco Middle School and Soroco High School showed improvement.
The middle school's performance rating moved from "low" to "average," and the high school moved from "average" to "high."
"We're very happy with the reports," Superintendent Kelly Reed said. "Credit goes to a stellar administrative staff and teaching staff."
Middle and high school Principal James Chamberlin said teacher collaboration, curriculum alignment and incentives for students factored into the higher scores.
A group of students in the sophomore class, he said, earned a trip this spring to the Six Flags at Elitch Gardens amusement park in Denver by surpassing targeted scores on math, reading and writing tests.
"I really commend the students for their improved effort and attitudes," Chamberlin said.
South Routt Elementary School maintained its "high" performance rating from last year but received a "decline" rating for academic growth, meaning some students may have scored lower on CSAPs last spring and brought down the school's average.
In Hayden, the reports also show declines. Superintendent Mike Luppes said Tuesday that although a lower state rating for Hayden Valley Elementary School was caused by administrative errors in test scoring, lower academic growth ratings for Hayden Middle School and Hayden High School were legitimate.
"At the middle school and high school, we had some scores that were down, plain and simple," Luppes said. "We were not pleased with our overall CSAP scores."
Luppes said several new programs and initiatives were under way to identify academic problem areas and better address the needs of specific students.
"We're getting a lot of things in place so that over the next few years we should see significant improvements in those scores," Luppes said.
It is unfortunate that students at Hayden Valley Elementary will not receive recognition for scores that are actually improved, despite the "low" performance rating on the SAR, he added.
"At the elementary level, (the rating) was entirely because of the coding errors in the fourth and fifth grade," Luppes said. "Overall, it was the highest that Hayden Elementary has scored on the CSAP since they've been taking the CSAP, we've had our highest average ever, and we're higher above state averages on CSAP scores than we've ever been."
Howell said the reports would serve as a valuable tool for creating instruction plans and greater student improvement.
"From an educator's perspective, we're looking deeper into the data to see how to use it," she said.
Parents of every student in the district will receive a copy of the School Accountability Report for schools their children attend within a couple of weeks, Howell said.