Editorial: CSAP scores show reform is crucial
August 14, 2010
No wonder the state is de-emphasizing this year's Colorado Student Assessment Program results.
With the exception of a few bright spots, there's not much to brag about in the largely flat numbers, and that's a shame.
It's also exhibit A in the argument against maintaining the status quo in Colorado's K-12 education system.
Those who found every way possible to criticize recent reform efforts would, essentially, perpetuate the same system that produced these scores, with the exception of putting more money into it.
We have high hopes and expectations for planned changes, including those in the state's Race to the Top grant application.
It's clear, after years of stagnant CSAP scores, that Colorado needs a significant shift in policy to address entrenched problems that the current system is failing to solve.
Those intractable issues include achievement gaps between white students and those of color, and the inability to increase the percentage of low-scoring students on track to catch up to their peers.
This year's CSAP results showed 68 percent of K-12 students were testing at least proficient in reading; 55 percent for math; and 53 percent in writing.
Those are dreadfully low percentages, and not indicative of the kind of education system Colorado children deserve.
The recent Race to the Top application, which has made the first cut in the competitive federal grant program, counts on many hard-fought reform efforts and sets high goals.
The state promises to get those reading proficiency scores up to 85 percent, math to 85 percent, and boost the high school graduation rate from just under 75 percent to 90 percent.
Those are staggering increases, and they won't come easily.
The state is counting on a range of reforms to get there, including linking teacher evaluations to student academic progress, turn-around support for the state's 72 consistently low-achieving schools, and strategies to train Colorado's 40,000 teachers in the state's recently passed education standards.
A few Colorado districts already have made some hard-earned progress, but many of those gains have come only after roiling debates about reform and leadership.
Among those districts stepping out are Aurora Public Schools, Denver Public Schools, Harrison District 2 in Colorado Springs and Mapleton schools, north of Denver.
These districts deserve support and respect for the work they've done so far.
There is a lot underway in Colorado K-12 education. The problems are complex and the bar for success has been set high.
The state's recent CSAP scores are just another indicator of how important it is for Colorado to pursue game-changing education reform.