Steamboat TCAP results once again promising, Hayden and South Routt improving
August 15, 2014
Steamboat Springs — The 2014 Transitional Colorado Assessment Program results are in, and the results for the Steamboat, Hayden and Soutt Routt school districts are varied. It’s the final year of the state standardized test before the Colorado Department of Education moves to a new, multistate test.
Steamboat once again exceeding state averages
Steamboat Springs School District students traditionally test well on the TCAP state test.
So it wasn’t much of a surprise when the Colorado Department of Education released its TCAP scores Thursday and they showed Steamboat students had tested above state averages across the board at every grade level and every school.
Steamboat sets its internal goal high, and a few of the results jumped out to district Curriculum Director Marty Lamansky.
One is how students test in the TCAP's reading, writing and math sections in the proficient and advanced realm, and then how those numbers stack up against other districts across Colorado.
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In reading, Steamboat students in third through 10th grades ranged anywhere from 83 percent scoring proficient and advanced at any one grade level to as high as 93 percent in fifth and 10th grades.
In writing, between 66 and 84 percent of Steamboat students scored proficient and advanced. In math, they scored between 56 and 87 percent in the same proficient and advanced category.
Another area of interest is Steamboat's sub-populations — its English-language learners’ and its Individualized Education Program students' growth from year to year.
"What we've been putting an emphasis on in recent years is working on our sub-populations, like ELL-identified students and IEP-identified students," Lamansky said Friday. "That growth, when it's broken down, is really starting to show some significant changes, some positive trending."
Results for programs like ELL and IEP in specific districts aren't available through CDE's website, but Lamansky said the district has paid close attention to those students' TCAP scores, dedicating more time to their growth in the classroom.
"That's something that's paying dividends," he said. "The energy and staff we are putting into that is helping out."
In the past two years, Strawberry Park Elementary School has scored higher nearly across the board in percentage of students achieving proficient and advanced from its elementary counterpart, Soda Creek.
But there's a promising trend, Lamansky said, especially with the 2014 results. Soda Creek's scores have showed dramatic improvement, both internally and in comparison with Strawberry Park and the rest of the state.
"We work to create a comprehensive elementary program, rather than a Strawberry Park and a Soda Creek program," Lamansky said. "Every year gets a little bit better. The reality is they will never be identical scores, because they aren't identical populations."
Soda Creek fourth- and fifth-graders improved on their previous year's scores in all but one area (fourth-grade math).
Soda Creek fifth-graders scored 17 percent better in the proficient and advanced category than they did their fourth-grade year, the biggest jump for any class within the district.
"That continues to narrow each year," Lamansky said. "That's the trend. It's dangerous to say a school is better than the other. They have different populations and needs."
Hayden making strides from 2013 results
In 2012, only a few grade levels in the Hayden School District were testing proficient or advanced at or above Colorado state averages in the TCAP's reading, writing and math exams.
A year later, Hayden showed improvement. At least half of the district's third- through 10th-graders were testing above Colorado proficient and advanced averages in two of the TCAP's exam areas: reading and writing.
This year, Hayden is living up to its goal of continued growth, new Superintendent Trudy Vader said. District students are testing advanced or proficient at or above Colorado state averages in all three TCAP subjects across the eight grade levels, including all third- through 10th-graders who tested above proficient and advanced state average in reading alone.
"The scores most important to us are the growth scores," Vader said Friday. "Our growth in reading, writing and math were above the state 50 percentile. They've been moving in that direction."
Vader noted that the state sets a target for grade levels to improve year to year in the 50-percentile range, and that Hayden improved in the 53- to 58-percentile range across the board.
The biggest improvement was among Hayden sophomores in reading. The 2014 sophomores had 67 percent of students test proficient and advanced in reading during their freshman TCAP and improved 23 percent to 90 percent testing proficient or advanced on their sophomore exam. It was the biggest growth in the proficient and advanced area for any Routt County class from last year to this year.
"That's the highest number I've ever seen on reading," Vader said. "How do you keep upper-level students growing? That's a tough thing. We need to educate every child, but we were definitely celebrating that phenomenal score."
But there are areas where the district needs to improve, the superintendent said, especially in writing and upper-grade-level math.
Five of the eight Hayden grade levels who took the TCAP tested at or below Colorado averages in the writing proficient and advanced category, the same number from the 2013 TCAP results. Also, eighth through 10th grades scored below state averages in proficient and advanced on the math section, and none of the three grades improved from the 2013 math exam.
"We definitely have some work to do," Vader said. "Writing is something we are focusing on, and we are well aware of that. We are not going to neglect that one bit."
South Routt below state averages but improving internally
South Routt School District students may not be exceeding state averages in the TCAP proficient and advanced scores at a percentage they'd like, but internally, improvement is showing.
The 2013 TCAP results revealed just three South Routt classes were able to improve their proficient and advanced score percentage from the previous year in reading, writing and math.
This year, every class that took the TCAP in 2013 improved in that 2014 category, marking small boosts for a district falling below the proficient and advanced averages statewide.
"It's a very positive sign," new South Routt Superintendent Darci Mohr said. "It's exactly what we want to see."
All Soroco Middle School classes scored above state averages in proficient and advanced reading, as well.
Different districts, different results
Despite being a short drive away from one another, Routt County's three school districts are very different.
With just 23 miles separating Steamboat from Hayden and Oak Creek, it's easy to try to compare districts side by side, Vader said.
Easy, but not exactly fair.
"There's a whole lot of people who try to compare the communities," Vader said. "But they are very different. For the most part, we stay focused on what we need to do."
While the Steamboat Springs School District continues to achieve advanced scores higher than most across the state on average, South Routt and Hayden work toward improving with small pushes forward.
Different resources, different enrollment (Steamboat 2,401, Hayden 417, South Routt 409) and different needs can equal a much different impact on scoring trends.
"In a school district with 2,200 kids, it's easier to rely on data," Mohr said. "But in one where a kid is 8 percent, he or she has a bad day, it makes it extremely difficult for small schools to really adjust for that."
And with the TCAP scores, Vader explained, their value is immense but not defining.
"We need to remember they are very different schools, certainly," she said. "They offer a different type of environment and culture. There's a whole lot more to education besides those scores."