Ranking for Steamboat schools dips but remains among highest in the state | SteamboatToday.com

Ranking for Steamboat schools dips but remains among highest in the state

Students listen during a sixth-grade science class at Steamboat Springs Middle School in 2013.

— The Steamboat Springs School District's state performance ranking has dropped five places to seventh, but district leaders are satisfied with remaining part of the top-4 percent of districts statewide.

The district has been recognized as "Accredited with Distinction," Colorado's highest performance rating, each of the six times the rankings have been released by the Colorado Department of Education.

In 2014, the district also boasted the second highest performance score in the state at 90.1 percent, but in 2016, six districts fared better.

"When you're still in the top 4 percent, that's outstanding," said Marty Lamansky, district director of teaching and learning.

Lamansky pointed out that many of the other top-scoring districts are much smaller than Steamboat, and, because the scores represent new students being tested, year-to-year fluctuation is expected.

Other variables include a recent opt-out movement by parents seeking to keep their children from being over-tested and a transition to new tests between 2014 and 2016, leading to a two-year gap between rankings.

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The ratings are based on test scores, student growth from one year to the next and how prepared students are for higher education and the workforce.

Districts in which less than 95 percent of students turned out to test for two or more subjects had that noted on their ranking, and low participation caused some districts to drop to a lower ranking.

The top-scoring district for 2016 was the rural, 231-student Edison School District in the unincorporated area of Yoder, an hour southeast of Colorado Springs.

"They are less than 10 percent of our size," Lamansky said.

In 2014, it was another small, rural district, Ouray, which was recognized as top in the state. The district has 189 students in a small town about 45 minutes south of Montrose.

Top among resorts

Steamboat Springs continues to outperform most districts in the state, including those in other resort communities like Aspen, Vail and Summit County.

While the Aspen School District earned an Accredited with Distinction ranking for four of the previous five years it was given, the district dropped its ranking in 2016 to Accredited, with a score of 76 percent, in part because of low student participation on tests.

Eagle County Schools in the Vail Valley have always maintained accreditation, but scores have never been high enough to earn the district an Accredited with Distinction ranking, including in 2016, when the district's rank dropped one place further, to "Accredited with Improvement Plan" because of low student participation.

In the Summit School District, which covers Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne, the district was Accredited, with a score of 70 percent.

Flurry of awards

After learning the district would hold on to its Accredited with Distinction ranking for another year, Steamboat staff also learned about several other awards earned by the district during the 2015-16 school year.

Among the awards were the John Irwin Award for schools that demonstrate academic excellence though time, earned by Steamboat Springs Middle School, Soda Creek Elementary and Strawberry Park Elementary; and the Governor's Distinguished Improvement Award for schools that demonstrate exceptional growth through time, earned by Strawberry Park, Soda Creek and North Routt Community Charter School.

North Routt Executive Director Brandon LaChance said the award was a tribute to the hard work of the school’s students and staff.

"We are proud of this achievement and growth as a school," LaChance said.

Lastly, the district, for the second time, earned the English Language Proficiency Act, or ELPA, Excellence Award.

About 158 students are currently receiving English Language Learner programming at district schools, and the award reflects strong growth and high achievement among that population of students.

The district and individual schools will be recognized at an awards ceremony from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 1 at the Colorado Department of Education lobby in Denver.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

Levels of accreditation

Accredited with Distinction

Accredited

Accredited with Improvement Plan

Accredited with Priority Improvement Plan