Three local schools rank among state’s best
Ryan Summerlin January 14, 2014
Summary of Methodology
While most other rating systems are based solely on academic achievement, or one snapshot in time of student performance, Colorado School Grades says it believes in the importance of using student academic growth to calculate overall school performance. For this reason, Colorado School Grades worked with the Center for Education Policy Analysis at the University of Colorado at Denver and R-Squared Research, LLC to calculate the grades using the exact same variables and weights as the Colorado Department of Education’s School Performance Framework. The input data for calculating the overall grades includes:
For Elementary and Middle Schools For High Schools
Key Performance Indicator Weighting Key Performance Indicator Weighting
Academic Achievement 25% Academic Achievement 15%
Academic Growth 50% Academic Growth 35%
Academic Growth Gaps 25% Academic Growth Gaps 15%
College and Career Readiness 35%
The key difference between Colorado School Grades and the Colorado Department of Education’s School Performance Framework are the categories and the cut scores that are used to determine placement in a category. The chart below reports the Colorado Department of Education four categories and the distribution of schools in those categories.
Colorado Department of Education School Performance Framework
(highest to lowest)
Category Original (2010) Distribution Current (2012) Distribution
Performance 40.0-100 30.0-100
Improvement 15.0-39.9 10.0-29.9
Priority Improvement 5.0-14.9 2.5-9.9
Turnaround 4.9 and below 2.4 and below
Colorado School Grades replaces fuzzy categories such as “performance” and “priority improvement” with universally understood letter grades (A-F). Their theory is that community members, parents, students, and educators can much more easily understand grades, which convey a ranking scale in a way that the state’s categories do not. Under the state’s existing system, schools in the 31st percentile and schools in the 99th percentile are both listed in the state’s top category. Therefore, Colorado School Grades assigns letter grades based on more nuanced, rigorous cut scores.
Colorado School Grades Ratings Model
(highest to lowest)
A (plus) 98.0-100
B (plus) 85.0-89.9
F 4.9 and below
Source: Colorado School Grades. Go to coloradoschoolgrades.com.
EAGLE COUNTY — Two local middle schools and the country’s only public ski academy high school are among the state’s top 10 percent schools, according to an independent analysis of state data.
Gypsum Creek Middle School earned an A, Eagle Valley Middle School earned an A- and the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy high school earned an A- from Colorado School Grades, a coalition of 18 Colorado industries and foundations.
Colorado School Grades uses the Colorado Department of Education’s testing data to evaluate and rank all of the state’s public schools on a standard bell curve. They translate the state’s data into letter grades (A-F) for public schools.
The difference is how it’s interpreted, said Jeremy Story, spokesman for Colorado School Grades.
Most years, the Colorado Department of Education ranks 70 percent of Colorado’s public schools as superior, making the CDE’s ratings an exercise in grade inflation, Story said. It’s the same as a classroom teacher giving 70 percent of his or her students an A, he said.
“That kind of grade inflation makes it difficult for parents to know how their schools are performing,” Story said. “If everyone is superior, it no longer is a distinction.”
This is the third year Colorado School Grades has issued its letter grades for public schools.
“Hopefully people are beginning to see trend data, whether their schools are going up or down, or remaining stable,” Story said.
The Colorado School Grades website has information to help parents and other advocates reach out to schools and school districts, Story said.
“Our goal is to help people reach out in ways that will effect positive change,” Story said.
Colorado School Grades is based on four criteria: academic performance, academic growth, the gap between high and low academic achievers, and in high schools college and career readiness.
The Center for Education Policy Analysis at the University of Colorado Denver came up with the Colorado School Grades formula. Its school rankings shake out like this:
10 percent get A’s.
25 percent get B’s.
50 percent get C’s.
10 percent get D’s.
5 percent get F’s.
Taking good news in stride
Jason Glass, superintendent of Eagle County Schools, said he appreciates the good grade, but it’s just one indicator.
“We’re very proud of all of our schools, and particularly excited today for those earning A’s from ColoradoSchoolGrades.com,” Glass said. “They look at achievement, growth and the achievement gap, with an emphasis on growth, which are important criteria for evaluating schools.”
Glass said the school district looks at a much more comprehensive set of key indicators to determine how our schools are performing, and where they need to improve.
He proudly pointed to other accolades local schools have received:
• Eagle Valley Middle School, Gypsum Creek Middle School and Edwards Elementary each received the Governor’s Improvement Award for 2013.
• Brush Creek and Eagle County Charter Academy each received the John Irwin School of Excellence Award for 2013.
• Eagle Valley High School was recognized by US News and World Report as being in the top 10 percent of national high schools, and Battle Mountain produced a 2013 Boettcher Scholarship Award winner.
• Avon Elementary is a National Blue Ribbon School based on its success with student growth.
“As we start out on our journey to become a world-class district, it’s important to say that we already have really strong schools with dedicated, high-quality educators and active, supportive parents,” Glass said. “Our goal is to get even better, to have a high reliability district that consistently and enthusiastically prepares students for life.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.