School narrows achievement gap

Achievement gaps are becoming a distant memory at Oak Grove Elementary School in Montrose.

Between 2007 and 2010, the more than 400-student school eliminated a gap in Colorado Student Assessment Program reading test scores between its minority students and other students. The school also closed a gap between students on free or reduced lunch and other students’ CSAP math scores.

The school was featured this summer in a Colorado Department of Education study that examined how extra funding and materials provided through a pilot program in 2008 through 2011 impacted schools with achievement gaps in math and reading for low-income or minority students. Oak Grove did not receive extra funding or materials from the program and was used as a comparison point in the study.

University of Colorado at Denver researchers who conducted the study for the state’s Closing the Achievement Gap Project found Oak Grove was one of the top five schools in the state for level of improvement in closing its achievement gaps. The Montrose School District’s School Board honored the school last week for that accomplishment.

Oak Grove Principal Laurie Pascoe said she was delighted to learn from the study’s researchers that her school is one of the best in the state at closing the achievement gap. Pascoe said the school has a free and reduced lunch recipient rate of about 62 percent and about 37 percent of the school’s students are minorities. Both of those percentages have increased since Pascoe became Oak Grove’s principal in 2007.

“Typically those groups don’t achieve as well because there are often obstacles in their way,” she said.

The study found Oak Grove implemented targeted interventions, allowed teachers to be actively involved in the school’s leadership, extended instructional time in math and reading, and set high expectations for all students. The six pilot schools involved in the project were doing similar things and the study predicted the schools would experience similar results. The schools are in the school districts of Eagle County, Roaring Fork, St. Vrain Valley, Summit County, Weld County Greeley 6, and Yuma School District 1.

Since 2007, Pascoe has sent teachers to trainings that taught them how to implement assessments that test a student’s proficiency and focused school culture on individualized attention for students.

“There’s a lot of great things going on,” she said. “It’s a great school with a great staff.”


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