Steamboat CSAP scores slip

— Steamboat Springs School District students continue to score well above their peers around the state on Colorado Student Assessment Program tests, according to results released Monday by the state Department of Education.

However, the district experienced a drop in scores across numerous grade levels and subject areas. It is a trend district officials say will be analyzed closely in the coming weeks and months.

Each spring, public school systems across the state are required to administer CSAP tests to all students. Depending on grade level, students take timed tests in reading, writing, math and science. The tests, designed to measure and monitor student and school achievement in relation to the state's content standards, are a primary component of state-issued School Accountability Reports.

As has become routine, Steamboat's public school students topped state averages in each CSAP subject area and at all grade levels.

"In general we continue to perform well, and above the state average," said Kelly Stanford, director of curriculum and instruction for the district.

Statewide averages aside, district officials prefer to compare student scores from year to year rather than from grade level to grade level.

For example, Stanford said the district gives more weight to comparing the reading scores of this year's sixth-graders to their scores as fifth-graders.

Comparing this year's sixth-graders to last year's sixth-graders is like comparing apples to oranges, she said.

Using the year-to-year method of comparison, the district experienced mixed CSAP results. The reading and writing scores of Soda Creek Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders dropped from 2003, when the students were in third and fourth grades, respectively.

The number of Strawberry Park Elementary School fourth-graders testing proficient or advanced in reading also dropped from how they performed as third-graders, scores reveal. But the school's fourth-graders improved significantly in writing scores, and the fifth-graders improved their scores in both reading and writing.

Steamboat Springs Middle School CSAP scores dropped in most grade levels and subject areas, while Steamboat Springs High School ninth-graders improved their test scores in math, reading and writing.

Tenth-grade reading and writing scores dropped slightly from the students' freshmen year.

Middle school Principal Tim Bishop said he was disappointed with his school's test scores, particularly after several years of steady improvement.

A bright spot in the scores was a steady number of students scoring at the advanced level, Bishop said.

"We're still well above the state, but I always want to see improvement, and I want to see it every year," Bishop said. "I didn't see it.

"This is really where my work begins. This is where I need to find out why we scored how we did."

A downward trend was evident across the district, Stanford said.

"We'd obviously prefer for scores to go up every year," she said. "We're down in more areas this year than we have been in past years."

Stanford said this year's CSAP results would be a catalyst for the district to analyze individual students and groups of students to determine where the district can improve instruction.

"Quite honestly this kind of performance gives us more of a reason to look closely at our data," Stanford said. "Everyone will want to look at exactly why this happened."

Soda Creek Principal Judy Harris is eager to look deeper into the test data.

"We want to really tear the scores apart," Harris said. "On first look I have some concerns. But I'm not disheartened. We have talented teachers, excellent students and supportive parents."


-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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