Better test result still a reason to cheer

Kids who didn’t score at or above grade level on Colorado Student Assessment Program tests still have something to celebrate if their scores improved year-over-year.

Parents, educators and students can track CSAP score changes year-over-year with the same student through the Colorado Growth Model, introduced in 2008. The model shows movement in a student’s scores from one grade to the next, so an educator can see if a student is learning even if that student hasn’t progressed to a new level, such as partial or full proficiency.

Comparing how a fourth-grade class performed on CSAP one year and how the next fourth-grade class performed the following year compares apples to oranges, according to District 51 Executive Director of Middle Schools Mary Jones. The growth model, she said, allows for an “apples to apples” comparison.

The growth model can keep a student from getting discouraged, according to District 51 Executive Director of High Schools Bill Larsen.

“Instead of a student saying, ‘I’m unsatisfactory again,’ he can say, ‘Look how much I grew,’ ” Larsen said.

The model also helps teachers see if a student is on the right track. That wasn’t as easy to see before in schools that had low levels of proficiency on CSAP tests.

All but six schools in District 51 had fewer than half of students achieve proficiency this year in at least one grade or subject. That may seem dismal, but the growth model tells a more detailed story:

Fifteen percent of local students who scored unsatisfactory or partially proficient on CSAP math tests in 2010 improved to proficient or better scores in 2011. Thirty-two percent of students who scored below proficient in reading in 2010 improved to the proficient level in reading in 2011.

Nearly 60 percent of District 51 students who were proficient or advanced in math or reading in 2010 continued to be proficient or advanced in the same subject in 2011.

All but two of the 39 schools in the district that measure growth made enough progress this year to turn the school’s median score in at least one subject into a proficient score within three years.

More growth data is available at SchoolView.org.

The growth model also can help an educator discover when something is right as well as when something is going wrong, such as a student getting further from proficiency or a school having high or low achievement and little growth to stay on the right path or get off the wrong one.

High-performing schools such as Orchard Avenue Elementary and Loma Elementary, for example, grew much slower than the state average this year.

“We’re happy they’re performing proficiently, but they may dip below that proficiency if they’re not careful,” said District 51 Assistant Director of Elementary Schools Lesley Rose.


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