District 51 third-grade CSAP scores dip

Sixty-eight percent of School District 51 third-graders scored proficient or better on Colorado Student Assessment Plan reading tests this year, a 2 percentage-point dip from last year’s third-grade reading results and 3 percentage points higher than the third-grade class of 2008.

The Colorado Department of Education released the reading results for third-graders Tuesday. Statewide, 70 percent of third-graders scored proficient or better in reading, a 3 percentage point drop from 2009.

Pear Park and New Emerson elementary schools had the highest percentage in the district of proficient or advanced readers, 90 percent, and Chipeta Elementary had the lowest, 38 percent.

After opening in the fall of 2006, 52 percent of Pear Park third-graders scored proficient or better on CSAP reading tests. In 2008, 65 percent of Pear Park third-graders scored proficient or better on the CSAP test.

In 2009, proficient and advanced scores jumped to 90 percent of the third-grade class. The school maintained that level this year.

Pear Park Principal Cheryl Taylor said the success in literacy is the result of teacher, parent and student commitment.

“Probably one of the things we’ve done much stronger is look at individual students, their needs, where they’re at and where they need to go,” Taylor said. “We work as a team to get them where they need to be.”

Even if a student is in one teacher’s classroom, another teacher may help that student learn to read. The school, like most in the district, also offers reading interventions for students from kindergarten on.

“We just want to continue to improve and make sure we’re meeting the needs of all our students,” Taylor said.

Third-grade reading scores are revealed before other CSAP results, which will come out this summer, so teachers can develop or refine individual reading plans for each student before the school year ends.

Because third grade is the first time students take CSAP tests, there’s no direct way to show growth in students, said Andy Laase, District 51’s director of elementary schools. For a rough comparison, Laase said, 61 percent of first graders in 2008 scored proficient or advanced in reading on Developmental Reading Assessment, Second Edition tests. In 2009, 62 percent of district second-graders scored proficient or better on the DRA II reading test.

The jump from 62 percent proficiency on DRA II tests in second grade to the same students scoring 68 percent proficient or better on CSAPs the next year in third grade appears to show a climb in literacy, but because the tests are different, Laase said a direct correlation cannot be made.

Laase said he’s never satisfied with test results that show less than 100 percent proficiency. The best way to get to that goal, he said, is to look at helping students with specific problems they have with reading instead of blanketing them with extra information on every nuance of the subject.

“It’s never enough to know the score. We definitely have to dig into the score and find out why,” he said.


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