Percentages awarded to Moffat County schools by the state department of education in the 2010 Performance Framework Report:
(School - 2010 score - three-year average)
• East - 61.1 percent - 61.5 percent
• Ridgeview - 45 percent - 50.2 percent
• Sunset - 41.7 percent - 47.9 percent
• Sandrock - 25.1 percent - 42.2 percent
• CMS - 53 percent - 51.7 percent
• MCHS - 53.4 percent - 52.9 percent
• Moffat County School District - 54.6
percent - 55.8 percent
For more information on the report and local results, visit www.schoolview.co...>
Christine Villard, assistant superintendent of the Moffat County School District, put a fine point on her district’s results in the 2010 Performance Framework Reports.
“Our scores are not where we want them to be,” she said. “We need to be performing better.”
The reports, which are generated by the Colorado Department of Education, were released at the end of 2010 and are posted for public viewing at www.schoolview.com, a website the Department of Education maintains.
The 2010 report states the Moffat County School District, as a whole, earned 54.6 percent of eligible points.
The district’s combined elementary schools earned 40 percent, Craig Middle School earned 53 percent and Moffat County High School earned 53.4 percent.
Individual scores for the elementary schools varied.
East Elementary School led the way with 61.1 percent. Ridgeview Elementary School came next with 45 percent, followed by Sunset Elementary School at 41.7 percent.
Sandrock Elementary School was last with 25.1 percent.
Results for Maybell Elementary School were not available on schoolview.com.
The Moffat County School District is in the 21st percentile in the state, according to the results.
School scores fall into four categories.
Those that earn 59 percent or higher are designated as performance schools; schools between 47 and 58 percent are improvement schools; those between 37 and 46 percent are priority improvement schools; and schools that earn less than 37 percent are considered turnaround.
However, schools are grouped into these categories based on three-year averages rather than one individual year.
Good and bad news can be taken from the scores, Villard said.
First, however, Villard cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the performance of Moffat County schools, especially when compared to neighboring school districts.
Interpreting the scores and putting them into perspective can be difficult, she said.
“It’s very complex,” she said. “And, even when you go on (schoolview.com) and you try to get an apples-to-apples comparison … we’re not always comparing apples to apples.”
Student populations like minorities, English Language Learners, economically disadvantaged and disabled learners — groups that traditionally perform lower than the general student population — complicate comparisons to nearby school districts, Villard said.
“If those groups are small, then those (scores) are not figured into the calculation,” Villard said. “So, in some of the smaller schools, (the special populations) aren’t factored into the calculation.
“So, it’s not always comparing apples to apples.”
For that reason, Villard said it makes more sense to compare Moffat County’s performance to school districts from around the state rather than districts closer to home.
“Comparing us to other schools in the valley is not an apples-to-apples comparison,” she said. “Comparing us to schools like Alamosa, Littleton, Delta, Montrose and Cortez is closer to an apples-to-apples comparison.”
Villard said a more illuminating comparison can be drawn right here at home.
“What we need to do is compare ourselves to ourselves,” she said. “How are we doing from one year to the next? What are our trends? Are we going up, or are we going down?
“The state of Colorado is going down and we’re going up.”
Another complicated aspect of the scores deals with growth, Villard said.
The Department of Education gives more weight to student growth than student achievement when averaging scores.
“East (Elementary) has lower (test) scores than Ridgeview (Elementary) and Sunset (Elementary),” Villard said. “But, East continues to be way out in the forefront for growth.”
As a result, East Elementary earned more points than elementary schools with higher-performing students.
“So, you have to analyze (the data) from many different angles so you can find those things that are working well,” Villard said.
One conclusion Villard draws from the reports comes from the district’s high school students.
MCHS scores are uniformly better than middle or elementary school students. Villard attributes this trend to teacher collaborative time.
Collaborative time, or “early release,” occurs every Friday. Students are sent home early and teachers get together to discuss issues and strategies.
Starting this year, all schools in the district have collaborative time. However, MCHS is in its third year of collaboration.
“Those teachers have had an opportunity to look at data, to look at standards, to look at testing, and to come together every week and talk about kids,” Villard said of MCHS collaborative time. “They have really focused on writing, and our (Colorado Student Assessment Program) scores in writing have gone up significantly.”
Villard said collaborative time has been controversial among some teachers and parents, but it’s worthwhile.
“It’s one of the highest impact things we can do. Teachers just need time,” she said. “Now, all fifth-grade teachers can finally talk to each other. And, all fourth-grade teachers can finally talk to each other.”
Villard said teachers discuss the best ways to teach the state’s clearly defined curriculum. It allows teachers to be better aligned.
Villard said alignment is critical to raising scores. But, alignment doesn’t mean teachers have to set aside their unique talents.
“Tight curricular alignment is the ‘what’ — what has to be taught,” she said. “The state has specifically said, ‘Kids need to know these things in first grade.’…They’re very specific. So that’s the ‘what.’
“The ‘how’ is where the creativity and art of teaching can come in. … So, the only thing that is tight is the ‘what.’ The ‘how’ is left up to individual talent, skill and creativity.”
Villard said the state’s emphasis on measuring schools’ performance is appropriate and works.
“Since No Child Left Behind and CSAPs have come into place, it has raised our awareness significantly as to where our students are performing,” she said. “ … No Child Left Behind has been a good thing. It’s been a painful thing, but it’s also helping us to focus on the right instruction for students and what we should be doing.”
In Colorado, all schools are required to submit action plans designed to raise scores to the state. However, the severity of those plans depends on scores.
For example, East Elementary, which is required to submit a performance plan, bears a lesser burden than Sandrock Elementary, which is required to submit a priority improvement plan, according to schoolview.com.
Villard said low scores at Sandrock weren’t a surprise, considering it’s the newest elementary school in the district.
“We knew that first year would be a tough year,” Villard said. “It was a transition for staff. It was a transition for students. It was a transition for families. That just disrupts the whole system.
“When you do a transition that’s that big, that global, you know your scores are going to drop. … That’s why we know their scores will go up.”
One of the measures for improving Sandrock Elementary will be increased testing throughout the year.
“The more you’re at risk, the more you’re assessed to see if you’re heading in the right direction and going to meet your target,” she said. “It’s data-based decision-making. We adjust the instruction based on what the data is telling us.”
Villard said the higher scrutiny can be intimidating at first, but it is ultimately helpful.
“Initially, it’s very scary,” she said. “It’s very frightening to look at data while you’re sitting beside your colleagues. But, teachers are just like anyone else. As soon they see the scores and the results, they’re vested.
“They want their kids to do well.”
Villard said she hopes the reports have the same effect on the community.
“I would hope people start asking good questions,” she said. “What does this mean? Why doesn’t this group perform well? How do we compare to the state? That’s really good.”
In addition to asking questions of educators and administrators, Villard said she hopes parents share in student learning.
“One of the biggest keys of student performance is parent involvement,” she said. “The one last piece — the final frontier to conquer — is getting parents more engaged and involved in their children’s learning. That makes a huge difference.”
Villard said school district administrators’ next step will be to host a school board retreat Jan. 21.
“We’re going to talk more in-depth about the unified improvement plan,” Villard said.
The retreat will include a joint session between the Craig City Council and Moffat County School Board, and also include preliminary budget discussions for the 2011-12 school year.
The retreat is open to the public.
Click here to have the print version of the Craig Daily Press delivered to your home.