Photo by Brian Ray

CSAP results different for white and minority Steamboat students


— Administrator JoAnne Hilton-Gabeler said that while the Steamboat Springs School District is working to shrink an achievement gap between white and minority students, the gap is growing and is now larger than the state average.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, standardized testing differences between white and minority students in Steamboat Springs are most pronounced in reading and math scores. Nearly 89 percent of white students in Steamboat Springs scored proficient or advanced in reading portions of Colorado Student Assessment Program, or CSAP, tests taken last year - compared to 51 percent of their minority classmates. Although both white and minority students in Steamboat scored above Colorado's average reading scores, the 37.7 percent difference between the two groups surpasses the state's average achievement gap of 30.5 percent.

In math, the achievement gap between white and minority students in Steamboat is 29.1 percent. While minorities and whites again scored above their peers statewide - 78.6 percent of white students scored proficient or advanced, compared to 49.5 percent of minorities - the achievement gap is bigger than the state's average of 26.7 percent.

"In a district as high-performing as this, and given the fact we do as well on everything else, we should be beating the state gap in every area," said Hilton-Gabeler, the school district's director of curriculum and instruction.

The Department of Education released its accreditation review of Steamboat's school district last month. The review ranked Steamboat's overall performance as fourth-highest in the state's 178-district system.

But the review also showed that the gap between white and minority students in Steamboat is slightly widening. In reading, white students improved CSAP scores from 2006 to 2007 by .02 percent, while Hispanic student scores dropped by .15 percent. In math, white scores improved by .05 percent, while Hispanic students dropped .06.

The number of American Indian, Asian and black students is too small in Steamboat to compare each race from year to year, according to the Department of Education, which includes all the groups in cumulative minority scores.

"We are getting a little bit worse, but we are getting more minority students," Hilton-Gabeler said. "That has to be taken into consideration : we are not expecting to have another increase in our gap, but we are expecting an increase in our minority population."

According to the Department of Education, 91.7 percent of Steamboat students are white, 6 percent are Hispanic, 1.3 percent are Asian, 0.5 percent are American Indian and 0.3 percent are black.

Bridging the gap

Hilton-Gabeler said the district took a big step last year by hiring four English Language Learner teachers - who work with students learning English as a second language - for Steamboat schools.

School officials stressed Friday that not all minority students are ELL students, and that Hispanic students are not always in the ELL program because English may be their native language.

"Because Hispanic ELL students make up most of our minority students, that is kind of how we are looking at the problem," Hilton-Gabeler said.

Tim Bishop, principal at Steamboat Springs Middle School, said addressing achievement gaps is less about race and more about providing individual attention to students.

"We don't look at it like we have to do something different for minority students, instead we are at the point now where we are assessing the abilities of all students on a regular basis," he said.

The middle school has 22 ELL students, four more than last year.

"We are assessing at the beginning of the year and throughout to see where abilities, strengths and weaknesses are, then creating interventions where we see they may need support," Bishop said. "Then we will re-assess and see if those interventions are working or if we need to try another angle."

Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal Brenda Barr said school officials, including ELL teachers, work to differentiate educational opportunities to students, regardless of race. Soda Creek Principal Judy Harris said her staff also develops individualized education plans based on student needs.

"Differentiation is about assessing, planning, implementing and viewing," Harris said. "We will continue to learn new techniques and understand the needs of ELL students."

Hilton-Gabeler noted that the achievement gap between whites and minorities is smaller at the elementary schools than the middle school and high school, despite the fact that more minority students are enrolled at the elementary school level.

At Soda Creek, the ELL population has increased by three students, to 33 this year. At Strawberry Park, the ELL population has grown more than at any other district school - up nine students from last year's enrollment of 27.

"Our high school is our biggest challenge," Hilton-Gabeler said. "But that is probably the case in most districts. As you go up the hill of education, the challenges of being able to close gaps and being able to take care of what we consider educational inequities becomes more difficult."

She said the district also is working with Colorado Mountain College's family literacy program to better understand the needs of minority populations in Steamboat.

Growth expected

Hilton-Gabeler said the district projects that minority populations will grow from the elementary school level up.

"When we get them younger, we are hoping the ELL program we have in place will better serve them," she said, adding that the achievement gap may never fully close because the small number of minority students in the district skews test score comparisons.

"Districts with larger numbers of white students who do very well - that's us - and a smaller number of minorities who perform less - that's also us - may have a larger gap than districts that have more average performance from whites and minorities," she said.

Hilton-Gabeler said the district's efforts to expand programs such as all-day kindergarten and after-school activities could increase the educational abilities of all students.

"In education, you look at the whole of the child to make sure the services are there so they can perform to the best of their ability," she said.


id04sp 9 years, 3 months ago


You missed the whole point.

Steamboat Springs and Routt County are free and open to anyone who wants to buy in, and has the money to do so. There has never been a gate outside of town where they do a DNA check before allowing you to come inside. The test is all based on ability to pay.

There are probably a lot more dumb white people in this country than any other category. You would probably find that the white people living here are smarter, on the average, than the white people living in other areas.

According to the U. S. Census Bureau, Routt County is significantly better educated than the rest of the United States. For adults 25 and over, we had a 95% high school graduation rate (versus 80% for the rest of the US) and a 42% college graduation rate (as opposed to 24% for the rest of the US).

For Colorado as a whole, the figures are slightly above the US averages (84% vs 80% for college, 34% versus 27% for high school).

I didn't say the majority students are smarter because they're white. I said they're here because their parents are better educated, and therefore probably smarter, than other people.

IQ does not necessarily predict success in college or in life, but it does predict success in taking standardized tests . . . .


Watcher 9 years, 3 months ago

Huge Headline on a Duh story. Is anyone surprised?? It is about a huge influx of non English speaking immigrants, many (most) of them illegal. Does anyone really think that they will do well on these tests?


justathought 9 years, 3 months ago

[the district took a big step last year by hiring four English Language Learner teachers - who work with students learning English as a second language] IF, you "don't look at it like we have to do something different for minority students", why are you spending money to teach English as a second language? I thought America was an English speaking country.


bigdog 9 years, 3 months ago

the answer is very easy. Dumb down the teaching and the test and all will be equal. Equally stupid that is.


addlip2U 9 years, 3 months ago

Sorry: the sentence should have read: .....then IMMERSE the students into the one and only official language of this country: English

.....It has been proven that the most efficient way to become fluent in another language is IMMERSION.


80488mom 9 years, 3 months ago

I was tempted to write something about this article this morning but wasn't much in the mood to get eaten alive.

It's not a racist issue. They are not stupid. An American child studying abroad would have similar problems. It's a trickle down immigration issue. Illegals will go where there is work and they will work for less. Someone is always willing to profit from their work and needs. Subs who don't hire illegals struggle to compete because of the high cost of doing business legally and continually being undercut by those who do. Guess where the money being saved is going? It's not going to the community and from the price of new properties it doesn't appear to be going to the buyers. Maybe the developer's pocket??

Routt County is a building boom while it is slow elsewhere. Expect a huge influx. Support services will be strained even further. I'm sure the hiring of additional second language teachers stresses the school budget.

What to do? Who knows. AZ enacted strict legislation fining and punishing businesses that hire illegals. I read on my CNN ticker a few days ago illegals were leaving AZ by the thousands. They are going to go where there is work and less chance of deportation.


addlip2U 9 years, 3 months ago

ELL - English Language Learner - is NOT the solution. This program is a waste of tax money and should be disbanded. Our educational fund is stressed already, us it elsewhere, wisely.

If (the educators think) the problem is that the "minority" students do not understand English (rather than lack of intelligence) then emerge these students into the one and only official language of this country: English.

Outside the school the students are free to speak, read and write in their native language.

It has been proven that the most efficient way to become fluent in another language is emersion. It works, trust me, been there.


id04sp 9 years, 3 months ago

How about a little bit of a different look at this issue?

Go back and correlate the scores with individual IQs and see how it works out. Since we have a large majority population which stems from college educated parents, and "comfortable" if not affluent backgrounds, both of which correlate with higher IQ, it might be that our so-called "white" population just happens to come from ancestors who are inherently more intelligent than the general population. Combine that difference with the language handicap, and it could explain everything without casting the blame on our school system.

Be very careful of basing a decision on a simple statistic. There's much more to statistical theory than just the "average." Population size, variance, and the actual underlying statistical distribution need to be determined before you can really make a decision.

The very first thing I'd want to see is a direct comparison between achievement scores for minority and majority students of EQUAL IQ! If you can find a statistical difference there, then it's probably due to language. Comparing a kid with an IQ of 100 who speaks no English to a kid with an IQ of 125 who is a native English speaker is not the way to assess the effectiveness of our educational system. It IS a way to get grant money, however, if you remove the IQ distinction from the analysis and blame it on lack of English language instruction.

Didn't Bill Cosby recently remark that the way to become an American is to start by turning off the Mexican TV? The man has a doctorate degree in education. It could just be that he's right.


snoman 9 years, 3 months ago

sbvor I am simply appalled at your post above. It shows a real lack of any true political knowledge. It is not and has not been a "Liberal" agenda. The law authorising testing throughout the country was enacted by the Bush administration and is called "No Child Left Behind". And in the state of Colorado Senate Bill 129 authorised testing here during the administration of Bill Owens with the FULL support of the then fully Republican dominated state legilature. All of this testing is being done and all of the results compiled to try and prove that our public education system is not working. However, the reality is is that it does work. That is one of the resons that this great country remains at the top! I do agree that the only result is that the whole testing thing does drag down the ability of teachers to be able to really teach. But, mi amigo, it was a conservative agenda that put it all into place.

ID, just a couple of thoughts. White and affluent DOES NOT MEAN HIGHER iq! It means that there are more, earlier childhood efforts at teaching and learning. Usualy more time with parents who read to their kids, more time in preschools that give the kids a leg up etc. etc. etc... The fact that you would post " might be that our so-called "white" population just happens to come from ancestors who are inherently more intelligent than the general population" seems to be insensitive and an incredibly racist remark. It has also been proven to not be true in many studies. Maybe higher IQ doesn't correlate with good taste or good sense!


Matthew Stoddard 9 years, 3 months ago

Snoman- Not to correct you when dumping on the Bore, but I thought No Child was a collaboration including Sen. Kennedy. As for white & affluent not meaning higher IQ, I've can prove that theory in two words:

Paris Hilton.


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