Clifton Elementary improves test scores

Clifton Elementary is among 17 Colorado schools removed from federally required improvement plans this year because of improved test scores.

Schools nationwide are required by the No Child Left Behind Act to create and follow improvement plans if students fail to meet performance targets in math and reading on standardized tests for two consecutive years.

It takes two years of improved performance on Colorado Student Assessment Program tests for a Colorado school to be removed from the list of institutions that need to operate on an improvement plan.

Clifton started its improvement plan in 2009, according to the Colorado Department of Education. The school is in its second year using state grant funds to coach and offer incentives to teachers and host more family nights and student tutoring sessions.

Those changes helped Clifton move off the list of schools needing improvement, according to District 51 Assistant Director of Elementary Schools Lesley Rose.

With Clifton’s exit, five schools remain on improvement plans and two, Chipeta and Lincoln Orchard Mesa elementary schools, are at risk of going on improvement plans next year. Dos Rios Elementary and Dual Immersion Academy are in the first year of improvement plans and Fruitvale Elementary is in its second year on an improvement plan.

Chatfield and Rocky Mountain elementary schools have entered their third year with improvement plans, which means they have graduated to “corrective action” status. That means two things, according to Rose.

One, those two schools have to provide more tutoring services, and two, if a parent requests it, the district has to bus a child from that school to another nearby school that made adequate yearly progress.

“We have 20-some families that chose to go to a different school,” Rose said, adding Pear Park Elementary was the most popular choice.

If Rocky Mountain and Chatfield continue to miss adequate yearly progress targets, the federal government may force those schools to spend their Title I dollars in specific ways. The federal government awards Title I money to schools that have more than half of their students enrolled in the free or reduced meal program.

An extended time on an improvement plan can lead to school closure, but Rose said she doesn’t see that happening to any local institutions.

“We wouldn’t allow it to ever get that far,” she said.


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