Moffat County students show varied achievement levels with CMAS tests | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County students show varied achievement levels with CMAS tests

District continuing to align with state's academic standards

Student test scores in science and social studies remained fairly flat overall for Moffat County School District this year compared to last, according to Colorado Measures of Academic Success testing data released this month. Students took the tests in spring of 2015.

Moffat County School District CMAS scores

Social Studies: Fourth grade

2015 MCSD scores/ 2015 state average; 2014 MCSD scores

Limited: 31 percent/ 29.9 percent; 43.6 percent

Moderate: 55.5 percent/ 48.3 percent; 52.7 percent

Strong: 12.9 percent/ 18.2 percent; 3.7 percent

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Distinguished: 0.6 percent/ 3.6 percent; 0 percent

Strong and distinguished: 13.5 percent/ 21.8 percent; 3.7 percent

Change in strong and distinguished: 9.8 percent MCSD; 4.8 percent statewide

Social Studies: Seventh grade

Limited: 65.3 percent/ 43.5 percent; 62.5 percent

Moderate: 30.7 percent/ 38.9 percent; 32.7 percent

Strong: 4 percent/ 13 percent; 4.8 percent

Distinguished: 0 percent/ 4.5 percent; 0 percent

Strong and distinguished: 4 percent/ 17.6 percent; 4.8 percent

Change in strong and distinguished: -0.8 percent MCSD; 1 percent statewide

Science: Fifth grade

Limited: 25.3 percent/ 29.1 percent; 28.6 percent

Moderate: 42.5 percent/ 36.1 percent; 35.4 percent

Strong: 30.5 percent/ 30.4 percent; 34.8 percent

Distinguished: 1.7 percent/ 4.4 percent; 1.2 percent

Strong and distinguished: 32.2 percent/ 34.8 percent; 36 percent

Change in strong and distinguished: -3.8 percent MCSD; 1.2 percent statewide

Science: Eighth grade

Limited: 38.9 percent/ 36.7 percent; 36.6 percent

Moderate: 38.9 percent/ 34.2 percent; 38.6 percent

Strong: 20.4 percent/ 26.5 percent; 21.4 percent

Distinguished: 1.9 percent/ 2.5 percent; 3.4 percent

Strong and distinguished: 22.2 percent/ 29 percent; 24.8 percent

Change in strong and distinguished: -2.6 percent MCSD; -3.5 percent statewide

Source: Colorado Department of Education; Note: Due to rounding, results may not add up to 100 percent, and percentages in the “Strong and Distinguished” group may vary slightly because of this.

Fourth-graders clinched the "most improved" title for a 10 percent jump in the number of "strong" and "distinguished" performers — the top two tiers of achievement — on the CMAS social studies test.

Seventh-graders didn't show quite the same improvement in social studies, however, with scores remaining almost completely flat.

The numbers don't surprise MCSD Director of Curriculum and Assessment Amy Ward, who sees them in context of curriculum changes being made across the district.

For starters, social studies scores have been fairly poor across the state both this year and 2014, the first year the new standardized test was given. Until 2014, the state hadn't tested students in social studies for more than a decade.

"Social studies across the state has not been well-aligned to the standards," Ward said.

Nonetheless, Moffat County students have even more catching up to do in social studies than most students, with scores below the state average on the elementary level — only about 14 percent of fourth-graders scored in the strong and distinguished categories compared to nearly 22 percent statewide.

Scores on the seventh-grade level lag further behind still, with less than a quarter as many students scoring strong and distinguished in Moffat County — 4 percent — as students statewide, at nearly 18 percent.

Additionally, 65 percent of MCSD seventh-graders showed "limited command" of the subject compared to 43.5 percent statewide, meaning "they will likely need extensive academic support to engage successfully in further studies in this content area," according to the Colorado Department of Education.

For Ward, it comes back to aligning curriculum in MCSD to the Colorado Academic Standards, a multi-year challenge which Ward and administrators undertook in earnest at the start of the last school year with a process called "scope and sequence."

"The standards in our scope and sequence outline the blueprint of what teachers teach," Ward said. "Now how they teach it is completely up to them… (and depends on) their teaching style, and their professional judgment about what activities would bring a topic to life."

Scores saw a boost in fourth-grade social studies, where the process was complete earlier than in other grades and subjects, and teachers had time to implement the standards in the spring semester.

In science, Moffat County students generally performed on par or just under state averages, with 32 percent of Moffat County fifth-graders showing a strong and distinguished command compared to about 35 percent statewide, and 22 percent of eighth-graders compared to 29 percent statewide.

Moffat County students didn't outperform their 2014 scores, however, with scores remaining largely flat across both grade levels.

Ward is optimistic that scores will improve with a curriculum that is better aligned to state standards, which she said helps to ensure students move forward through higher levels of complexity and understanding as they progress from one grade to the next.

"This year will be the first for the district to teach scope and sequence for what we teach and when we teach it," Ward said. "We now have an assurance that our curriculum is aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards."

The plan that Ward and administrators initiated last year will continue to unfold as they put more pieces into place in the next two years.

"It's very systematic and I'm very excited because I've never been in a district that has been this dedicated to implementing these strategies," Ward said. "We've had flat results for years, this change is absolutely needed… It's scary and uncomfortable, but we have to do it for our students."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

Moffat County School District CMAS scores

Social Studies: Fourth grade

2015 MCSD scores/ 2015 state average; 2014 MCSD scores

Limited: 31 percent/ 29.9 percent; 43.6 percent

Moderate: 55.5 percent/ 48.3 percent; 52.7 percent

Strong: 12.9 percent/ 18.2 percent; 3.7 percent

Distinguished: 0.6 percent/ 3.6 percent; 0 percent

Strong and distinguished: 13.5 percent/ 21.8 percent; 3.7 percent

Change in strong and distinguished: 9.8 percent MCSD; 4.8 percent statewide

Social Studies: Seventh grade

Limited: 65.3 percent/ 43.5 percent; 62.5 percent

Moderate: 30.7 percent/ 38.9 percent; 32.7 percent

Strong: 4 percent/ 13 percent; 4.8 percent

Distinguished: 0 percent/ 4.5 percent; 0 percent

Strong and distinguished: 4 percent/ 17.6 percent; 4.8 percent

Change in strong and distinguished: -0.8 percent MCSD; 1 percent statewide

Science: Fifth grade

Limited: 25.3 percent/ 29.1 percent; 28.6 percent

Moderate: 42.5 percent/ 36.1 percent; 35.4 percent

Strong: 30.5 percent/ 30.4 percent; 34.8 percent

Distinguished: 1.7 percent/ 4.4 percent; 1.2 percent

Strong and distinguished: 32.2 percent/ 34.8 percent; 36 percent

Change in strong and distinguished: -3.8 percent MCSD; 1.2 percent statewide

Science: Eighth grade

Limited: 38.9 percent/ 36.7 percent; 36.6 percent

Moderate: 38.9 percent/ 34.2 percent; 38.6 percent

Strong: 20.4 percent/ 26.5 percent; 21.4 percent

Distinguished: 1.9 percent/ 2.5 percent; 3.4 percent

Strong and distinguished: 22.2 percent/ 29 percent; 24.8 percent

Change in strong and distinguished: -2.6 percent MCSD; -3.5 percent statewide

Source: Colorado Department of Education; Note: Due to rounding, results may not add up to 100 percent, and percentages in the “Strong and Distinguished” group may vary slightly because of this.

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