Steamboat Springs Soroco High School teachers and administrators have reason to be optimistic about the future.
According to Colorado Student Assessment Program test results released Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Education, Soroco's ninth-graders improved their 2006 scores in every category compared to their scores as eighth-graders in 2005.
The class of 2009 was the only Soroco class to improve its scores in each category.
"It was an attitude of a group of kids," South Routt School District Superintendent Kelly Reed said about the freshman class' improvement.
District officials often compare students' CSAP scores from year to year rather than by grade level. For example, the reading, writing and math scores of freshmen are compared to their scores on the same tests as eighth-graders.
The CSAPs were administered to students in grades three through 12. Students in fifth, eighth and 10th grades also took a science test. The science test was new for fifth- and 10th-graders in 2006.
With the exception of about a half-dozen grade-level results, Soroco's students scored lower overall on the 2006 CSAP tests than those same students did overall in 2005.
The CSAP tests, designed to measure and monitor student and school achievement in relation to the state's content standards, are a primary component of state-issued School Accountability Reports.
"Testing has changed the entire face of Colorado education," Reed said. "We want to teach to the whole child, but, at the same time, we have to focus on CSAP elements or we could be penalized down the road. We try to balance it the best we can. I feel very good our kids have held their own this year. One year does not necessarily indicate we have a problem."
Reed pointed to improvements in math scores -- seventh, eighth and ninth grade scores increased compared to how those classes did in 2005 -- as a highlight. But he was disappointed with the district's writing scores.
Soroco's fourth-graders were the lone class to improve upon 2005 results, and no class scored better than 75 percent proficient or advanced in writing.
Overall, Soroco is near or above the state averages in terms of reading proficiency. The district is above the state average in writing proficiency, with the exception of the eighth and 10th grades, which are below by more than 10 percentage points.
In math, the grades flip-flop between being above or below the state average, highlighted by the third grade being 93 percent proficient or advanced in math.
Soroco's third-graders tested well in 2006.
"We were very, very pleased with our math improvements," Reed said. "We stressed that. We've gone in and brought some math coaches in to really help us teach math in a different way. I still feel that the math, the bar is raised extremely high. A lot of our students do not receive all the math they need to be prepared. We restructured our curriculum. Still, it's been a catch up."