EAGLE COUNTY — After four straight years of gains, local students’ reading scores slipped slightly in statewide testing.
The Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) is a statewide standardized test designed to measure student performance, and results were released Wednesday afternoon.
Of the local third-graders who took the test, 72 percent scored proficient or advanced in reading, compared to 73 percent statewide.
Statewide testing found in 2012 that 73 percent of the students in Eagle County school district were proficient or advanced, up from 71 percent in 2011.
Digging beneath the data
A closer look at the results reveals a persistent divide between white and minority students, both locally and statewide.
Last year, Eagle County’s student population of English learners was highest in the state, according to the Colorado Children’s Campaign.
It’s Colorado’s third highest this year at 34.9 percent, behind Denver County at 36.9 percent and Lake County at 35.1 percent.
The state average percentage of English learners is 14.4 percent per school district.
Still, local English-speaking students scored with the best in the state, and Eagle County’s English learners outperformed the state average for their student group, Glass said.
The blended averages put the local school district at about the state average, the data says.
“We’re very proud of all of our students and staff,” said Jason Glass, superintendent of Eagle County schools. “We have lots of room for improvement, which we are focusing on, but to stay even during a difficult financial crisis and the first overhaul of curriculum in 100 years is a testament to the professionals we have working with students.”
Locally, third-grade reading was down 2 percent from last year, 72 percent proficient/advanced, compared to 74 percent the two previous years.
Half (50 percent) of third-graders were proficient or advanced in writing.
In math, third-graders trailed the state average, 69 percent advanced/proficient to 72 percent. Math scores tended to tail off as both local and statewide students got older. By eighth grade, 54 percent of local students are proficient/advanced and 51 percent of statewide students are. By the time they get to 10th grade, 29 percent of local students are proficient/advanced in math, and 34 percent are statewide.
About the TCAP
The TCAP measures students in grades 3-10 in reading, writing, science and math. It replaced the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) two years ago, and will be given one more year before it’s replaced by something else next 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 Title I, and eligibility to receive free or reduced price lunch.
Colorado’s statewide student testing started in 1997 with two tests, and grew to include 31 tests, the Colorado Department of Education said.
“This level of detail allows principals and teachers at the school level to drill down and pinpoint areas needing improvement,” Glass said. “It also highlights district wide challenges that we continue to work on, like math and the achievement gap.”
What it means
Third-graders who don’t read proficiently are four times more likely to drop out or flunk out of high school, studies say.
One in six children who do not read proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than for proficient readers, according the report “Double Jeopardy: How Poverty and Third-Grade Reading Skills Influence High School Graduation” commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.