School officials hope to better CSAP scores

Across the state, boys lag behind girls in reading and writing, Hispanic students average scores that are 30 points less than their Anglo counterparts and younger students severely outperform those in the upper grades.

Whether that holds true for Moffat County remains to be seen.

"We have some data broken down, but not all of it," Moffat County School District Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan said. "We basically have looked at it in terms of grade levels, not in terms of cohort groups."

More than 1.4 million students across the state took the Colorado Student Assessment Program Test last year, the results for which were released earlier this week.

Moffat County students in all grades but tenth scored at or above state averages in reading and math.

Educators are pleased they're staying even with statewide performance levels, but they have no plans to remain at that level.

"Our goal is to get in the 80s (percent proficient and advanced)," Sheridan said. "We feel if we get there, we've taken care of the majority and still have allowed room for special populations."

The school district will first look at the number of students who scored unsatisfactory on the test, "because those kids need fairly intense interventions right now," Sheridan said.

Overall, the number of unsatisfactory scores in the district decreased by 25 percent to 30 percent.

"That says our interventions are working," Sheridan said. "Hopefully, with some more longitudinal data that we've gradually been getting from the state, and with our own data analyzed, we can see what interventions work best for individual students."

Moffat County's overall scores were released this week, but the disaggregate results -- those that break down the results by sex, ethnicity, special needs and other categories -- were not. Those results were available for the state.

Gaps in performance between students of different ethnic groups persist with little evidence that they're narrowing. Hispanic students continue to chart the largest achievement gaps, averaging 30 percentage points or more behind Anglo students in nearly every grade and subject.

Girls outscore boys in reading and writing and score the same as boys in fifth-grade math but lag slightly behind boys in other grades in math and in the only science exam, given to eighth-graders.

There are even differences in test scores based on income -- an average of 30 percent between the poorest and most affluent.

Moffat County School District officials made the decision in 1997 to hire a literacy coordinator to help the district increase reading skills. Six years later, a math coordinator was hired and a new curriculum was adopted.

There existed 30 years of case study on reading that state tests in reading were research-based and fit well with existing curriculums.

"We have a real good handle on where kids should be and what they should be able to do," Sheridan said.

Writing and math posed more of a challenge.

A lot of districts teach a lot of different things. Sheridan said. Moffat County High School required that students take two math classes, but those weren't necessarily algebra and geometry, which are the subject areas CSAP focuses on.

Now those are required courses for high school students, and eighth-graders are now getting instruction in algebra.

This fall, the district will start refining writing programs, Sheridan said.

"Everyone's focus seems to still be on math, but we can't keep letting writing go," Sheridan said. "Obviously you want to emphasize one area without giving up on the other."

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

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