Scenic top in state in elementary reading growth

Fifth-grade teacher Dan Worth enthralls his Scenic Elementary School students with a lesson on the scientific method involving the ability of cans of soda to float depending on the pop’s sugar content.

Scenic Elementary School had the most growth among all elementary schools in Colorado in year-over-year individual Transitional Colorado Assessment Program reading test scores this year.

The state tracks growth in student achievement on TCAP tests by comparing each student in a school’s progression year-by-year each spring in TCAP testing. The state then gives each school a growth percentile ranking that compares that school’s growth in TCAP performance to other schools in the state. A school that matches the state average in growth is ranked in the 50th percentile.

Scenic placed in the 82nd percentile for growth this year, the highest percentile growth recorded in 2012 among Colorado elementary schools. Three high schools placed higher in growth than Scenic.

Scenic Principal Doug Levinson said TCAP score and growth data were released by the Colorado Department of Education earlier this month but he didn’t know how high Scenic’s growth ranked in the state until it was reported Aug. 8 by The Denver Post. Levinson attributed the school’s jump in reading scores to dedicated students and staff and simple programs like an after-school homework club and an extended study period during lunch. The school also uses some funding from the district to retain reading aides amidst budget cuts.

“We try to keep things really simple. Get your work done, do it well and good things will happen,” Levinson said.

Scenic’s third- and fourth-graders were 70 percent and 72 percent proficient or better, respectively, on 2011 tests. In 2012, the school’s fourth- and fifth-graders, most of whom were the previous year’s Scenic third- and fourth-graders, scored 77 percent and 79 percent proficient or better in TCAP reading, respectively.

Scenic had the highest reading growth in School District 51 but the honor of having the district’s highest math and writing growth goes to Nisley Elementary.

Nisley placed in the 75th percentile for math and in the 73rd percentile for writing.

Nisley Principal Curry Newton said she expected the school to experience high growth when students took TCAP tests this spring.

Starting last year, the school began “departmentalizing” its fourth- and fifth-grade teachers so that one teacher teaches one subject to all students in one grade.

Students are split up in sections based on varying ability level so teachers can focus on meeting their individual needs without going too far above or below their skill sets.

Newton said she hopes continuing to departmentalize and monitor student progress will lead to higher scores soon.

The percentage of Nisley third- through fifth-graders proficient or better in math this year ranged from 49 percent in fifth-grade to 70 percent in fourth-grade and writing proficiency ranged from 26 percent among third-graders to 46 percent among fourth-graders.

“We were expecting the growth and we’re expecting our proficiency to match the growth,” Newton said.


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