CSAPs suck time from officials

School district officials compiling, comparing and charting numbers

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Students may spend hours taking the Colorado Student Assessment Tests, but that's nothing compared to the amount of time officials put into evaluating the results.

Four days after CSAP results were released across the state, Moffat County School District officials are still compiling, comparing and charting numbers.

Preliminary assessments show the district is improving in reading, writing and math, but those numbers still aren't to the standards officials are looking for.

"We want to be in the mid- to upper-80s, but we have to look at progress," Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan said.

In most grade levels, students charted math scores that matched or exceeded the state average. That's not necessarily good news, Sheridan said. The state average isn't that high.

"We know nationwide that our scores aren't where they're supposed to be," he said.

Thirty-three percent of the district's fifth- through 10th-grade students scored proficient or advanced in math. That's up a percent from last year and 4 percent from 2002.

Other areas show slight increases, too. An average of 67 percent of fourth- through 10th-grade students scored in the proficient and advanced range, up four percent from 2002. Forty-eight percent of third- to 10th-graders scored high in writing.

Tenth-grade students showed marked improvement in writing and math with many jumping from the unsatisfactory category to proficient.

Fourth-graders at Sunset Elementary School hit the highest districtwide goal in reading and writing by having no test-takers score in the unsatisfactory category.

That's good news, Sunset Principal Jim Rugh said. The downside is that many proficient students fell into the partially proficient category.

"One of our concerns was the drop in writing scores," Rugh said.

He said he's waiting for individual test scores to be returned so school officials can determine which programs and interventions are successful.

School officials do more than look at grade-level results. They break the results down all the way to the classroom level so individual teachers can identify and work with students' strengths and weaknesses.

Further, officials aren't just satisfied with the state categories of unsatisfactory, partially proficient, proficient and advanced. The school district breaks those down into three sub-categories for each main category, identifying which students are low proficient, average proficient or high proficient.

"A good thing is that a big portion of our partially proficient students are closer to being proficient than they are unsatisfactory," Sheridan said.

CSAP results aren't used alone to determine a student's, teacher's or school's progress. They're combined with several other tests and assessments to form a "body of evidence," which gives officials a better handle on strengths and weaknesses.

According to Sheridan, results indicate that students put a lot of effort into CSAP tests even though the results don't affect the individual student. He said there's a lot of consistency between CSAP and other test results.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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