EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - A local independent charter school earned some of the state's best marks in independent rankings.
Stone Creek Charter School's middle school received an A rating in this year's Colorado School Grades rankings, an annual independent of statewide school data analysis.
In the same rankings, Stone Creek's elementary school ranked in the 89th percentile among Colorado's 998 elementary schools.
Stone Creek Charter School is not affiliated with the Eagle County School District. The K-8 independent charter school operates under the Colorado Charter School Institute, and is the Charter School Institute's highest performing school, said Ethan Hemming, CSI executive director.
"Stone Creek is succeeding in closing historical achievement gaps," Hemming said in a written statement. "The school is serving an increased proportion of student populations categorized by the state as being traditionally underserved, such as English-Language Learners, minority students, or students with disabilities. These student groups at Stone Creek Charter School are producing levels of achievement and growth that are comparable to their classmates and surpass state expectations."
Mistakes were made
Hemming said errors made at the Colorado Charter School Institute in spring 2012 affected the accuracy of the student performance results reported for Stone Creek Charter School last fall. That resulted in reported scores that are much lower than their actual achievement levels, he said.
That's why the elementary school incorrectly received a C ranking in the original Colorado School Grades ratings.
When that data was corrected, Stone Creek's elementary school ranking put it in the state's 89th percentile.
The mistake happened when the CSI excluded several Stone Creek students' testing results from the elementary calculations. That incorrectly lowered Stone Creek's Colorado School Grades ratings, Hemming said.
When the data was corrected and all of Stone Creek's eligible scores were included, Stone Creek was ranked among the top two middle schools in Eagle County, Hemming said. Gypsum Creek Middle School also earned an A ranking from Colorado School Grades.
Stone Creek's grades have consistently increased, Hemming said.
"It is worth noting that these increases are at a time when 11 schools in the geographic district saw performance declines in 2012 from the 2011 school year," Hemming said.
About Colorado School Grades
Colorado School Grades uses the Colorado Department of Education's testing data to evaluate and rank all the state's schools on a standard bell curve.
The difference is how it's interpreted, said Scott Laband with Colorado Succeeds, one of the 18 organizations that spend more than $1 million in private money to evaluate the data. The goal is to put easily accessible information into the hands of parents and community members better, so they can understand the performance of their local schools, Laband said.
"Before this tool was created it was easier to go online and pick a vacuum cleaner based on rankings than it was to get school information," Laband said. "We believe that information is powerful and we want them to use it to work with and improve their local schools."
About Stone Creek Charter School
Stone Creek is Eagle County's only independent charter school. It opened in 2006, and expanded to a second campus prior to this school year.
Stone Creek holds classes in Gypsum and Edwards in the Edwards Interfaith Chapel.
Stone Creek board member Mitzi Forrester said the school was responding to market forces and request for a campus in the western end of the valley.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.