A list of Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award recipients for the 2009-10 school year is at www.cde.state.co....
Steamboat Springs The rate at which Soroco High School students are progressing academically year after year is among the top 8 percent of Colorado K-12 schools.
Colorado Department of Education Commissioner Robert K. Hammond wrote in a letter to Principal Dennis Alt last month that Soroco was selected to receive a Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for the 2009-10 school year. The award recognizes schools with the highest rates of student longitudinal growth on Colorado State Assessment Program tests.
“I think it shows how hard the students and teachers have been working and how excellent our teaching staff is to have growth rates that high,” Alt said. “Our growth (rates) have been phenomenal the last two years of CSAP scores.”
Department of Education spokeswoman Megan McDermott said in an email that the award was just revealed publicly. She said the award, which recognizes growth for a three-year period, was established by statute in 2000.
Citing the Department of Education’s Colorado Growth Model website, McDermott said growth is not judged in test score gains or losses, but student growth percentiles. She said a student’s test scores are a basis for growth calculations that are used to estimate growth percentiles, which are compared with similar students.
“This process can be understood as a comparison to members of a student’s academic peer group,” McDermott said in the email. “The Growth Model tells us which schools and districts produce the highest rates of growth in academic achievement. These schools or districts may not be ones with the highest test scores every year — growth level is completely independent of achievement level for individual students.”
McDermott’s explanation helps illustrate that although Soroco’s CSAP scores may not be as high as other schools’, the rate at which students have grown the past three years is positive.
Alt said Soroco’s teachers have been focusing on classroom instruction, calling it “sacred.” He said they’ve differentiated lessons to reach different students. Alt also said special attention has been paid to determine where students are positioned academically and what needs to be done to make sure they’re grasping material.
“I’ve only been on three staffs, but the quality of the staff here is phenomenal,” he said. “They’re really good teachers.”
Superintendent Scott Mader called the award significant.
“To have it with the limited number of schools in the state is outstanding,” he said.
Mader said the district would celebrate the award with high school students and staff, but an event hadn’t yet been planned.
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com