Higher learning

Moffat County School District CSAP scores improve from last year

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Moffat County School District officials said they are pleased -- but not satisfied -- with improved results on this year's Colorado Student Assessment Program tests.

The test results were released statewide Wednesday.

Moffat County's data revealed that students, those ranging from third to 10th grade, scored proficient or above in 15 of the 27 areas tested. This year's results are an improvement from last year, when the district scored proficient or above in 13 of 25 tested areas, administrators said.

"What these scores show," school district Superintendent Pete Bergmann said, "is strong incremental growth in general."

Third- through 10th-graders took tests in math, reading and writing. Fifth-, eighth- and 10th-graders were also tested in science.

The district showed the strongest improvement in writing, Bergmann said, an area district administrators and educators targeted for improvement.

Last year, only one grade level tested at or above proficiency in writing. This year, three of the nine grades tested -- fourth, sixth and eighth grades -- scored at or above the mark.

"(Writing) started to be a focus last year, and we will continue with staff development, analysis of curriculum and best practices in teaching writing to go into this year," Bergmann said.

Six of the eight grade levels tested in math scored at or above the state average. Failing to meet the mark were fifth- and 10th-graders, according to the test results.

Five of the eight grade levels tested in reading on the state examinations scored proficient or above. Students in fifth, ninth and 10th grade did not meet the state average.

In recent years, the district has aimed at improving its student scores in math, reading and writing.

"We've tried to identify our greatest areas of need and (combine) these together so we can have some regular incremental increases," Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan said.

Science testing -- which expanded to include the fifth and 10th grades this year -- had one grade level score at or above proficiency, the eighth grade. The fifth and 10th grade missed the cutoff by three percentage points.

Bergmann said the district is in the process of delving deeper into the test result data, in hopes of learning what subjects teachers should focus on for improvement. He said analyzing the data to better student achievement is a "continual process."

"Each grade level works in teams to address the areas of greatest need," Bergmann said. "Right now, our tech department is working hard to get more detailed data to teachers by the first day of school. We'll drill down into the data to understand more closely where students are failing."

Results from the Dinosaur Community Charter School -- a small school 90 miles away -- were not included in Moffat County's assessment test results.

The school, which is in the midst of signing a deal with an online academy, thereby parting ways with Moffat County, did not have the minimum number of students in sub-groups to be included, school district officials said.

This time of year always produces "a certain degree of anticipation and anxiety," Bergmann and Sheridan said. It doesn't end with the results released Wednesday.

Next week, school officials are scheduled to receive word on whether their districts met annual yearly progress, a requirement of the federal mandate, the No Child Left Behind Act.

Under the all-or-nothing NCLB, districts must meet progress standards in all categories. Despite meeting progress standards in 105 of 106 areas, the district failed to meet AYP overall last year.

Bergmann said the district will continue to focus on teaching students and improving learning as best it can. Test scores should then take care of themselves, he said.

"If we take care of the fundamentals of instruction and sound practices for improvement, the big game will take care of itself," Bergmann said.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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