Schools get thumbs-up in review

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State officials Wednesday reviewed Moffat County School District for accreditation. They said they liked what they saw.

"You've really positioned yourself to be forward thinking," said Bob Mullen, Northwest Region manager for the Colorado Department of Education. Mullen and Bush White, Title II coordinator and senior consultant, were in Craig to review school district policies and goals in 11 categories.

The school district is accredited until 2007, but an annual review is meant to ensure it stays on track. Formal accreditation -- which occurs every six years -- is the state's mechanism for ensuring all districts comply with state and federal requirements.

"The primary thrust is achievement, but there are several other indicators that will weigh in," Mullen said.

Steady progress

The district is evaluated on its improvement plans, student achievement, curriculum, teacher retention and financial health.

"We're making steady progress as we move forward to accomplish the school's goals," Superintendent Pete Bergmann reported. "There's consistency in what we're trying to do in Moffat County."

For the past several years, the school district has committed itself to answering three questions:

What should students know?

How will we know they have learned it?

What will we do when they don't learn?

The district has handled the first question by identifying "essential learnings," skills or knowledge students should have. The second step was to create a way to assess whether a student had mastered an essential learning. The district's focus this year is to answer the final question. "This is where we're at now," Bergmann said. "This is really where the rubber meets the road."

The district uses results of state and local tests to determine the causes of poor performance and to find such remedies as remedial learning and mentoring programs. The district is working to create an intervention team, which would use the experience of a group of professionals in problem solving.

"I really like the concept of an intervention team because it pools resources, which is critical in times of financial cuts," Mullen said.

Student scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program test are increasing, which the state has noticed, Mullen said.

"Your math scores just jumped out at us," he said. "Your work in math was evident."

He also commended school officials for narrowing the achievement gap between white students and English language learners in math and reading.

Mullen said he expected to issue his report in December.

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

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