Steamboat School District again honored among state's best

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— For the fourth straight year, the Steamboat Springs School District was recognized by the Colorado Department of Education as one of the top places to learn in the state.

The district was one of 16 in Colorado accredited with distinction for 2013, announced at the CDE School and District Awards Ceremony on Dec. 3. It put Steamboat in the top 9 percent of districts in the state in terms of overall performance, an honor it has received since CDE began labeling schools with it just four years ago.

In order to be accredited with distinction, Colorado school districts must earn 80 percent or more of the available points on the district performance framework. Points are based on academic achievement, academic growth, reducing academic growth gaps and postsecondary and workforce readiness, according to district Curriculum Director Marty Lamansky.

How schools are measured in narrowing academic gaps year to year has a lot to do with the Colorado growth model, Lamansky added. Steamboat Springs School District has more than 2,400 students in its six schools.

Three schools — the middle school, high school and Strawberry Park Elementary School — were given the John Irwin Award. Schools that show prolonged academic success receive the honor, which is calculated through students’ Traditional Colorado Assessment Program scores. The TCAP exam assesses reading, writing, math and science content and is administered every March.

The John Irwin Award "is based on the last three years of data,” Lamansky said. “It has to be a long-term track record.”

Steamboat Springs Middle School was recognized as a Governor’s Distinguished Improvement school, given to 130 schools in 2013. Lamansky said the middle school was recognized for its academic growth in reading, writing, math and English language proficiency for English language learners.

Like the John Irwin Award, the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement award tracks long-term academic growth and it recognizes schools that exceed expectations in the classroom.

“It’s quite an honor,” middle school Principal Jerry Buelter said. “We’ve been fortunate to do really well (with student growth) in the past.”

The two other honors given to Colorado schools at the ceremony were the ESEA Reward School and the Centers of Excellence awards. Lamansky said the district doesn’t have a school that would qualify for either award, which are given to Title I schools and academically improved schools with 75 percent of their population considered at-risk students.

“All of these things don’t happen with just a few people,” Lamansky said. “It’s all 300-plus employees in the district working together for quality education.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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