Second-graders at Soda Creek Elementary School, from left, Wyatt Gebhardt, Jack Ringer and Ruth Holguin count syllables in various words during class Wednesday. Soda Creek and Steamboat Springs High School received "high" ratings in reports released Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Education. Strawberry Park Elementary School and Steamboat Springs Middle School maintained "excellent" ratings.

Photo by Brian Ray

Second-graders at Soda Creek Elementary School, from left, Wyatt Gebhardt, Jack Ringer and Ruth Holguin count syllables in various words during class Wednesday. Soda Creek and Steamboat Springs High School received "high" ratings in reports released Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Education. Strawberry Park Elementary School and Steamboat Springs Middle School maintained "excellent" ratings.

Strawberry Park, middle school rated 'excellent' by the state

Hayden, South Routt get mixed reviews


— Steamboat Springs Middle School and Strawberry Park Elementary School maintained "excellent" ratings in reports released Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Education.

Principals of both schools were quick to credit students and staff for the achievement.

"I'd just like to say how proud I am of students and staff at the middle school, and I appreciate the support the parents give us," middle school Principal Tim Bishop said. "Our teachers, day in and day out, do a fantastic job of educating our students."

Strawberry Park Principal Brenda Barr said the achievement is a testament to the school's goal of meeting the needs of every child.

"I think it is wonderful that the dedication and hard work of the teachers and students is recognized," she said. "There is always things to improve, but they are doing an excellent job."

School Accountability Reports are based on each school's Colorado Student Assessment Program, or CSAP, scores. The reports compare 2007 CSAP scores in schools across the state to determine ratings for the 2006-07 school year. The state rates the top 8 percent of schools as "excellent;" the next 25 percent as "high;" the next 40 percent as "average;" the next 25 percent as "low;" and the bottom 2 percent as "unsatisfactory."

In Steamboat, the middle school and Strawberry Park retained their status as "John Irwin Schools of Excellence," meaning they are among the best schools in the state as determined by student test scores.

"I guess for a number of years, the middle school was a high-achieving school, and over the last three years it's been designated a school of excellence," Bishop said. "We have improved every single year of the past six years. Any business or corporation would be proud their product improved consistently."

SSHS and Soda Creek

Steamboat Springs High School received a rating of "high" for the second consecutive year. Soda Creek Elementary School also was rated "high."

The reports rated academic growth at both schools as "stable."

Interim Superintendent Sandra Smyser took pride in how well district students performed.

"Congratulations also to our teachers, support staff and administrators for a job well done," she said. "Our students continue to improve and to score well, and it is evidence of great schools, supportive parents and a great, supportive community."

The North Routt Community Charter School's middle school was rated "high," down from "excellent" last year. The school's elementary program also dipped, receiving an "average" rating after earning a "high" rating last year.

South Routt, Hayden

Across Routt County, Hayden Middle School improved its rating from "average" last year to "high" this year. But Hayden Valley Elementary School saw its rating drop from "high" in 2006 to "average" this year. Hayden High School was rated "average" for the second straight year.

"With the elementary school, I do not feel that is a reflection of what is going on," Hayden Superintendent Mike Luppes said. "We have a real good school there that is definitely better than an average school."

Luppes added that he was pleased with the middle school achievement, but surprised the high school wasn't rated "high."

School Accountability Reports for the South Routt School District show the high school and middle school improved their ratings, from "average" last year to "high" this year. Conversely, South Routt Elementary School dropped to "average" from its rating of "high" in 2006.

"We are gratified with the results that show improvement at the middle school and high school," South Routt Superintendent Kelly Reed said. "However, we hope to see those scores continue to rise."

Reed said he anticipates the elementary school to improve next year.

"The elementary school dropped slightly the last two years, but we believe it has leveled out," he said. "Overall, we are very happy. The results are a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our staff, support staff and administration."

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail


another_local 9 years, 4 months ago

Testing has many factors that impact scores. Student demographics have a huge impact. Luckily for us we have nothing but excellent schools in Steamboat Springs.


blackthroatedwind 9 years, 4 months ago

Standardized tests have been used for decades. When I was in school in the 70's, the tests were so standardized that all we ever did was color in the square. No individualism there. I turned out allright. All the naysaying about how bad standardized testing is just adds to the common thread in the world today of criticizing without providing solutions. come up with a better way! Scoring a school on how many extracurricular activities it has??!!! C'mon, underwater basketweaving practice after school does nothing for the education of kids to succeed in the world!


dogd 9 years, 4 months ago

The axe-grinders are not happy with this news. Dr D, they have been saying, has destroyed everything. Actually, what he did was created an expectation of excellence. And that has continued.


corduroy 9 years, 4 months ago

I think its funny they judge a school on test scores alone like that. Haven't we all figured out that standardized tests don't truly portray the full picture?

My point is the students may be geniuses, but if they aren't good with tests, the school looks bad anyways.


handyman 9 years, 4 months ago

Corduroy - I agree that standardized testing should not be the only criteria for evaluating the quality of a school, but what other options are available? We need to come up with other ways, too.


corduroy 9 years, 4 months ago

I'd say we can also grade schools on extracurricular activities (although depending how rich a school is, this might not be a very accurate portrayal), community involvement, the problem is standardized tests have answers that are either right or wrong, its black and white and the real world isn't like that.

I don't know another testing mechanism that would work well, but some of the projects that students do greatly precede test scores in actual knowledge retention. A student showing they can USE the knowledge, not just spitting it back out, is really what shows intelligence IMHO :)


letomayo 9 years, 4 months ago

High expectations and good programs will get higher scores on these tests. I would ask what Straw Park and the MS are doing and use those teachers and staff to train the others in the district.

What is Straw Park doing that they continue to get higher scores? Does it (expectations) start earlier at that school than Soda?


foodchain 9 years, 4 months ago

Apparently from the photo, children are not instructed to take off their hats inside the classroom. these days. Perhaps we should no longer call it a "class" room.

It used to be that a male would remove his hat upon entering a room, residence or public building as a matter of class, courtesy and respect. Ahh...the good old days when one could not walk into a middle school (junior high, as it was) and not be subject to horrid sight of many children with tops too short, pants too long and parents who dress like their children (or is it the converse?)

Public education. One gets for what one pays.

Students in Japanese crams schools and India tech instutitues would laugh at that picture if they had time to look up from their Calculus and Chem lessons.


jmemcse 9 years, 4 months ago

CSAP isn't the only assessment tool the k12 schools use, just the one the State is using for their report.

foodchain - you are right, our students in the US are falling behind in the global competition for a tech savvy workforce.

Yes, you do get what you pay for. Our schools need more money - better trained and more teachers, classrooms equiped with state of the art technology, etc.

We as a community need to prioritize school funding instead of letting the State do a half assed job of it.

The future of public education will create a "3rd world quality" workforce in the US if we continue on our present path.


Chris Elliott 9 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations to both schools. The staff is doing a great job! Foodchain, as for the hats, it is one of Tim Bishop's policies that no hats are allowed to be worn in school. At SPE it is at the teacher's discretion. I know of atleast two teachers that do not let the kids wear hats in the classroom.


letomayo 9 years, 4 months ago

The photo was taken at Soda Creek. Read the caption. Expectations for behavior and learning at Soda are not very high.

Straw Park always had a rule that no hats were allowed. That is when student expectations were high. Two years under a new principal seemed to lower expectations for behavior.


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