72% of D51 third-graders score proficient or more on reading test

Seventy-two percent of School District 51 third-graders scored proficient or better on Transitional Colorado Assessment Program reading tests this year, falling short of the state average of 74 percent.

The state average improved by a percentage point year-over-year in 2012, while District 51’s average improved 2 percentage points.

The Colorado Department of Education released TCAP reading data for third-graders Wednesday and will release results of other TCAP tests in late July or early August. Third-graders take the TCAP reading test in February before other TCAP tests are taken in March and April so teachers can get the results sooner and formulate reading improvement plans for struggling students before the end of the current school year.

District 51 Executive Director of Elementary Schools Andy Laase said he won’t truly be pleased until all third-graders are proficient readers. But he’s happy with elements of this year’s TCAP scores.

“We’re closing the gap with the state and I’m excited 67 percent of the schools went up compared to last year,” he said, referring to a year-over-year increase in the percentage of proficient third-grade readers at 16 out of 24 traditional District 51 elementary schools. “I like the direction we’re going.”

Nine of those schools earned their highest proficiency rates in seven years, including New Emerson School, where 100 percent of third-graders scored at or above grade level this year in reading. Taylor Elementary and Independence Academy, a district charter school, had the next-highest percentage of proficient readers with 89 percent of third-graders scoring at or above grade level on TCAP reading tests.

Rocky Mountain Elementary School had the lowest level, 49 percent, of third-graders who scored at or above grade level on TCAP reading tests. Last year, 53 percent of Rocky Mountain third-graders tested proficient in reading.

Laase said the good news is a new computerized test, called STAR, shows this year’s third-graders improved their reading abilities over the course of this year. Rocky Mountain third-graders on average learned one year and four months of content between the time they took a STAR reading test in August 2011 and when they took another STAR reading test last month, Laase said.

The district began giving computerized STAR math and reading tests to all students in kindergarten through eighth-grade this year. Most students take STAR reading and math tests in August, December and April, although some struggling students may be tested as often as every other week, according to Laase. He said the tests help track student progress and predict how students will perform on TCAP tests.

STAR test results tipped off Orchard Avenue Elementary staff to an expected drop-off from last year’s TCAP scores. Seventy-four percent of its third-graders scoring proficient or above on TCAP reading tests. Ninety-two percent of the school’s 2011 third-graders scored proficient or above.

“It’s two different groups of kids,” Laase said.

Nisley, Scenic, Dual Immersion and Fruitvale all had double-digit increases in the percentage of third-graders who scored proficient on TCAP reading tests this year compared with results from last year’s crop of third-graders at the same schools.

TCAP replaced the Colorado Student Assessment Program this year.

TCAP tested the same grades and subjects as CSAP, with third- through 10th-grade Colorado students taking TCAP math, reading and writing tests and fifth-, eighth-, and 10th-graders taking TCAP science tests.

TCAP testing will continue next spring.

The transitional test is designed to create a bridge between CSAP testing and a new statewide standardized test system expected to begin in spring 2014.

The new test will reflect changes to Colorado curriculum standards adopted by all Colorado school districts during the current school year.

The new standards require students to learn certain concepts in earlier or later grades than the old standards and focus on critical thinking, collaboration and self-direction, according to the CDE.


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