The results of the statewide Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) tests have been released and Moffat County School District officials are pleased with the improvements they have seen since the test's inception in 1997.
The most telling results from the Moffat County School District (MCSD) show that 80 percent of third graders, 72 percent of fourth graders and 72 percent of seventh graders are proficient in reading.
"We have shown significant improvements in seven of eight of the assessment tests that they have given in recent years," said Pete Bergmann, director of curriculum for the MCSD. "The district's focus for the past couple years has been to improve reading and writing at the elementary level, and we have seen a corresponding return with substantial gains in achievement in these areas. Our scores indicate that we have developed a solid foundation in reading and writing at the elementary level and are seeing progress at the secondary level."
CSAP scores for Moffat County Schools have shown gains in every area except for eighth-grade math, which is down 2 percent from last year. Third-grade reading was at 80 percent proficiency, up from last year's 65 percent. Fourth- grade reading is at a 72 percent proficiency level, up 10 percent from last year. Seventh-grade reading saw the most marked improvement, with a 23 percent increase, bringing the proficiency level up to 72 percent from last year's 49 percent proficiency level.
"Our scores are still not as high as we would like to see them, but our progress and growth in the areas we have addressed is very encouraging," Bergmann said. "We have both reason to celebrate and have reason for concern. One thing is certain, Moffat County School District is doing a better job of educating students than we were five years ago."
Statewide, students showed an improvement in test results in every category except for seventh -grade math, which saw a 1 percent decrease from last year's results. Reading and writing assessments were administered to fourth-grade students for the first time in 1997, and to seventh-grade students for the first time in 1999. Eighth-grade math and science assessments were administered for the first time in 2000, and the remaining tests were given for the first time in 2001.
Math continues to be a problem for students statewide, as 51 percent of fifth graders register above the proficiency level. Thirty-seven percent of eighth graders statewide are proficient or above, and only 14 percent of tenth graders registered as proficient.
"We are frankly disappointed in these scores and look forward to the challenge of increasing our math achievement in the district," Bergmann said. "This CSAP data will help us to formulate a district plan to improve in this area."
In Moffat County, 39 percent of fifth-grade students are proficient or above in math, up from last year's score of 31 percent. Eighth-grade students scored at an 18 percent proficiency level in math, down from last year's 20 percent.
"The approximately 750,000 tests that we report upon today represent a large and growing inventory of data that can aid teachers across the state in their efforts to strengthen instruction," Colorado Commissioner of Education William Maloney stated in a press release. "These teachers know that good assessment is an integral part of good instruction. The wealth of data provided by this assessment gives both teachers and parents valuable reportage on how our children are doing and also what is needed to promote their future growth.
"Clearly, we must give many more of our high school students the math curriculum that will allow them to succeed."
Although these tests are given statewide as a measuring tool of children's education, Bergmann cautions against using the tests as a true indicator of everything that is being learned in school.
"CSAP tests are only one indicator of student academic success," he said. "They are quality, rigorous tests that give us a picture of how our students are performing measured against Colorado's high academic standards. CSAP tests measure academic achievement in a single, high-stakes test format, which unfortunately will be the only measure that will be used by the state to assign a grade to schools."