Colorado 3rd grade CSAP scores show decline |

Colorado 3rd grade CSAP scores show decline

Jeremy P. Meyer and Burt Hubbard
The Denver Post
Vail, CO Colorado

Colorado third-graders regressed in reading skills this year, with statewide scores on early release of the state assessment declining to 2008 levels.

The third-grade reading scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program were released Tuesday – months ahead of the rest of the results that will be released in the summer.

Every year the state tests third graders in reading a few weeks early to give teachers time to help students who are struggling in literacy – considered the cornerstone of education.

This year, the tests showed either it was a tougher exam or the state has slipped a bit.

An analysis of scores show:

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-The overall percentage of third-graders scoring “proficient” or “advanced” fell to 70 percent from 73 percent in 2009.

-No progress was made in closing gender, economic and racial gaps statewide. In fact, black students dropped farther behind state averages after posting solid gains last year. Males also fell further behind female students.

-Littleton Public Schools saw scores rise 1 percentage point, while scores stayed the same in the Denver Public School District. The other 13 metro districts saw scores drop.

The biggest drop took place in some of the poorest districts. For example, scores in Sheridan fell 19 percentage points followed by drops of 10 and 8 percentage points in Commerce City and Westminster districts, respectively.

* Seven metro school districts had lower proficient and advanced scores than two years ago – Adams Five Star, Westminster, Sheridan, Aurora, Boulder and Jefferson County.

* Scores ranged from a high of 82 in Douglas County to a low of 39 in Westminster – a district that this year implemented a new reform that eliminated grade levels and placed students in classrooms based on their skill levels.

* Statewide, about 60 percent of the schools (59 percent) had a lower percentage of proficient and advanced reading scores than last year.

* In DPS, scores at 48 schools fell, rose at 40 and stayed the same at 3.

Among the highlights in Denver were Beach Court Elementary School in North Denver, where 96.3 percent of students are economically disadvantaged. The school had 85 percent of its third-graders scoring proficient or advanced on the English-version of the test and 92 percent scoring proficient or advanced on the Spanish version of the test.

“It’s a lot of dedication and patience and strategic planning on how to get the kids where the need to be,” said Principal Frank Roti, explaining how the school succeeds every year against the odds.

“When you have a top-notch staff, results happen. I have an amazing team,” he said.

Also, in DPS, Smith Elementary and Pioneer Charter School had the biggest increases in Denver – Smith went from 29 to 53 and Pioneer went from 30 to 54. The two schools jump of 24 percentage points also was the highest increase among all metro area schools.

In fact, among metro area schools, DPS had eight of the 15 schools posting the biggest increases between 2009 and 2010. The others and their gains – Swansea (21), McMeen (18), Fairview (17), Colfax (16), Gust (16), Howell (16) elementaries.

* Schools with a high percentage of kids eligible for free and reduced priced lunches fared poorly.

Only 17 of the 212 schools statewide that have 75 percent or more of their students eligible for free and reduced lunch, a measure of poverty, scored at or above the state average of 70 percent proficient or advanced.

Among metro area schools, it was only four of 171 schools with 75 percent or more of their students eligible for the lunches. One of the four was Ricardo Flores Magon Academy, a charter school in Westminster. The other was Beach Court.

Jeremy P. Meyer: 303-954-1367 or

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