Report reveals Steamboat Springs School District among fastest growing in state | SteamboatToday.com

Report reveals Steamboat Springs School District among fastest growing in state

Teresa Ristow

Students board a long line of busses at Steamboat Springs Middle School in 2013.

— A new independent report has ranked the Steamboat Springs School District as one of the fastest growing in the state.

A+ Colorado's report, The Outliers, ranks Steamboat as the seventh-fastest growing school district in the state between 2011 and 2015 among districts with more than 1,000 students.

Though the growth rate of 12.3 percent referenced in the report was outpaced by six other districts, those included the statewide Charter School Institute, which grows as new schools open, and a Colorado Springs district that opened an online school available to students from multiple districts.

"We knew that we were growing but to know we were growing that much more in comparison to other districts was surprising," said Marty Lamansky, district director of teaching and learning. "That's pretty remarkable."

According to Colorado Department of Education numbers, the district's preschool through 12th grade enrollment grew from 2,282 students in October 2011 to 2,563 students in October 2015 — an increase of 281 students, or 12.3 percent.

The Outliers report, released for the first time Feb. 1, aims to identify districts statewide that buck trends in student achievement, highlighting districts that are best serving different student populations, such as students of color, students with disabilities, English language learners and low-income students.

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The report has received attention and endorsements from Colorado legislators, who praised nonprofit A+ Colorado for highlighting districts that are doing a good job with historically underserved populations.

The Steamboat Springs School District was also highlighted in the report for growth of particular student groups on state testing, with Steamboat identified as being in the top five districts in the state with highest growth for Latino and white students on English language arts exams and in the top five districts for growth of students eligible for free and reduced lunch on state math exams.

The district was also recognized as being among the five districts with the highest graduation rates for students with disabilities or with individualized education programs, or IEPs, with 81 percent of those students graduating on time in 2015.

Statewide, 54 percent of students on an IEP graduated on time in 2015.

"I took that as a huge accomplishment," Lamansky said.

School districts' academic growth was also considered in relation to other districts with similar demographics, with Steamboat's performance specifically recognized in the report as a district where the proportion of students meeting grade level standards was 15 to 20 percentage points higher than similar districts.

The report also compared ACT scores among districts.

Steamboat was not singled out for high performance on ACT exams, but Lamansky said the district's composite ACT results were still 13th highest among the districts included in the report.

"I don't see a lot to panic about there," Lamansky said. "I was very pleasantly surprised that we are 13th highest."

Lamansky said the report was interesting to read and offered a new perspective by only including districts with 1,000 students or larger.

"It’s a fairer comparison," Lamansky said.

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