District moves closer, but falls slightly short of full accreditation

School District 51 is closer to full accreditation than it was last year, but fell short of the cut again this year, under a new state accreditation system.

The system, called Performance Frameworks, was introduced in 2010. Schools and districts are “accredited” or “accredited with distinction” if they meet 64 percent of the state’s goals for Colorado Student Assessment Program scores and year-over-year individual growth in those scores.

District 51 met 62 percent of those goals with this spring’s CSAP scores and other data, so the district was “accredited with improvement” for the second consecutive year and will submit a plan next month to the state for how the district will improve its performance. The district met 60.5 percent of the state’s goals last year.

“We’re on track to meet accreditation next year,” District 51 Executive Director of High Schools Bill Larsen said.

The district came closer this year to meeting state goals in two of the four categories that determine a district’s accreditation rating. The district had the second-highest year-over-year jump among the state’s 18 largest districts in goals met for student growth in CSAP scores. The district also experienced a slight increase in goals met for CSAP score growth in student subgroups, such as homeless students, students with disabilities and students who receive free or reduced-price school meals.

District 51’s score in a category that combines high school dropout and graduation rates and ACT scores for the district’s 11th-graders remained flat year-over-year. Larsen said the district’s graduation and dropout rates improved this year, but its ACT scores declined.

The district met fewer goals this year in one area: CSAP achievement. District 51 Executive Director of Elementary Schools Andy Laase said it was possible for the district’s growth scores to improve while achievement fell, in part, because the achievement category counts how many students scored proficient or above on CSAP tests and leaves out movement in other categories.

“We moved a lot of kids from the unsatisfactory category to partially proficient,” Laase said.

Laase said the district has more students who are new to the district or new to CSAP testing this year who need extra support or aren’t coming to school prepared for grade-level work.

“We need to grow them at a higher rate to get to proficiency,” Laase said. “It’s not an excuse. Our job is to get them to proficient, and we are. It just takes longer.”

Laase said the district is working on that growth by having kindergarten through eighth-grade students take an online assessment at the beginning of the year. Teachers then can see where a student may need extra help and assign those students to get extra help at times when the student will not be taken out of regular classroom learning time.


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