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August 14, 2014
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Students on par with state academic averages

EAGLE — White students blew past the average in statewide academic testing, and Hispanic students are closing the gap.

Colorado’s Department of Education on Thursday released standardized test results, the TCAP.

Overall, Eagle County’s students were average with the rest of the state. However, breaking the data out by ethnic groups reveals results that are markedly different.

Eagle County’s schools have Colorado’s third-highest percentages of English Language Learners, 34.4 percent; Denver County was 36.9 percent and Lake County was 35.1 percent, according to the Colorado Children’s Campaign.

The state average percentage of English learners is 14.4 percent per school district.

With two and a half times as many students learning English, being on par with state averages is remarkable, but still not good enough, said Jason Glass, superintendent of the Eagle County school district.

“Our unshakable goal is putting our schools on par with the best performing schools in the world,” Glass said. “We are one year into that effort and have to commit to an extended push toward improvement.”

For 2014, The Transitional Colorado Assessment Program administered 1,523,301 tests to about 507,700 Colorado students. The tests took about 12 hours of student time.

Statewide across all grades, all content areas saw a decrease in the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced compared to 2013, according to the Colorado Department of Education.

High fliers still flying

Some have grumbled that closing the achievement gap — the gap between whites and students in other ethnic groups — was being accomplished by bringing top performers down instead of elevating low performers.

Eagle County’s TCAP results prove that’s not true, Glass said. He said the district’s “student-customized learning practices” are elevating those already advanced, supporting those falling behind and challenging those in the middle.

“Within these district-level results are pockets of inspiration and big mountains left to climb,” Glass said.

“When 95 percent of students are proficient and advanced at reading in third grade at one school, we get excited. When only 47 percent of our best high school students are proficient and advanced in math, we know where we need to focus.”

“We are determined,” Glass said. “People in our community know that you don’t climb mountains without preparation, execution and a heck of a lot of effort.”

It’s still about the Benjamins

Glass led the charge by school superintendents from around Colorado to restore some of the money that state lawmakers slashed from education funding during the recession. This year’s state budget restored a drop to that bucket, but Glass says funding is still far short of what Colorado’s Constitution said it should be.

By some calculations, Eagle County’s schools are being short-changed by $8 million a year.

“It’s a credit to our educators that scores haven’t seen a dramatic slide in light of the crippling economic constraints of the last four years,” Glass said. “But we won’t be happy until our averages are much higher.”

That effort continues this year with elevated teaching standards and expectations, customizing instruction and empowering front line educators, Glass said.

About the TCAP

The TCAP measures students in grades 3-10 in reading, writing, science and math. It replaced the Colorado Student Assessment Program three years ago, and this should be its last year, the state Department of Education says.

The TCAP is supposed to track a student’s academic growth year-by-year. Besides data for individuals, schools, school districts and statewide averages, measurements are broken out by gender, race/ethnicity, special programs status such as special education and eligibility to receive free or reduced price lunch.

Colorado’s statewide student testing started in 1997 with two tests and has grown to include 31 tests.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

“Our unshakable goal is putting our schools on par with the best performing schools in the world. We are one year into that effort and have to commit to an extended push toward improvement.”
Jason Glass
Superintendent of Eagle County Schools

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The VailDaily Updated Aug 15, 2014 02:08PM Published Aug 14, 2014 09:08PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.