Steamboat schools earn top marks |

Steamboat schools earn top marks

School district receives state 'accredited with distinction' rating

Substitute teacher Rodney Beall talks with students, from left, Harry Jenkins, Ryan Graves and Preston Anderson during a science class Tuesday at Steamboat Springs High School. The Steamboat Springs School District was accredited with distinction for the second year in a row by the state of Colorado.

— For the second consecutive year, the Steamboat Springs School District has received the state's highest accreditation rating. It's an honor Steamboat Springs High School Principal Kevin Taulman credits to the district's staff.

"We can have the best curriculum in the world, but it doesn't mean anything without the hard work of our teachers," Taulman said.

Steamboat is one of 18 school districts, out of 178 in Colorado, to be "accredited with distinction" for its academic performance in the 2010-11 school year, according to the Colorado Department of Education.

Other educators in Steamboat on Tuesday praised the recognition, saying it also was the result of parent support and their district's increased focus on the performance of every student.

"Obviously, we're very excited," Steamboat Springs Middle School Principal Tim Bishop said. "This accreditation recognizes the hard work of our students and our staff. Nationally and statewide, there are a lot of negative stories about the budgets and the performance of kids, so it's always nice to receive a recognition like this."

School districts in Colorado each year receive their accreditation ratings from the Department of Education based on academic growth and how well their schools prepare students for postsecondary education and careers, measures that are determined by Colorado Student Assessment Program and ACT scores.

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The state's rankings are: accredited with distinction, accredited, accredited with improvement plan and accredited with turnaround plan.

In the 2010-11 school year, every school and every grade level in the Steamboat Springs School District surpassed state averages in the CSAP, according to test results released by the state Department of Education.

"I just think it's an outstanding reflection of the work and skills of our students and staff and parents, as well as the community support," Steamboat Superintendent Brad Meeks said of the accreditation. "We're all very proud of the accomplishment, and we want to maintain that high level of performance as we move not only through this school year but the school years to come."

Steamboat Springs High School Assistant Principal Marty Lamansky, who on Thursday will start as the district's curriculum director, said Steamboat last year set the bar high after it was accredited with distinction for academic performance in the 2009-10 school year.

"To maintain that bar is a major accomplishment, and it says a lot about the dedication of our staff and how they are not satisfied with the status quo as they look for improvements," Lamansky said.

Students at the high school also helped Steamboat achieve the accredited with distinction rating by testing above ACT "college readiness" benchmark scores that determine whether a student has a 50 percent or higher probability of earning at least a B in a corresponding college course.

Lamansky said that in 2011, 80 percent of high school students in Steamboat met those standards in English, 60 percent in math, 66 percent in reading, and 44 percent in science. Those percentages are all above the state averages of 63 percent in English, 40 percent in math, 49 percent in reading, and 29 percent in science.

Soroco, Hayden edge closer

Meanwhile, the South Routt and Hayden school districts both earned the second-highest state performance ranking of "accredited."

That ranking is a jump for Soroco, which was ranked as "accredited with improvement plan" for its performance in the 2009-10 school year.

Soroco High School Principal Dennis Alt last month said he attributed the district's improved ranking to a more focused review of testing data made available by the state and increased training for staff.

In Hayden, Superintendent Mike Luppes said his district again was ranked "accredited," but it saw academic performance improve at the middle school.

A representative from the Steamboat Springs School District will travel to the Colorado Department of Education offices in Denver on Dec. 12 to be recognized for the "accredited with distinction" rating.

— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email

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