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Elementary schools meet goals

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” By No Child Left Behind standards, 10 of 18 Eagle County schools made the grade on state testing this year.

No Child Left Behind, the federal education reform created in 2001, requires all schools to show improvements on standardized test scores every year. The goal is to have every student in the United States proficient in reading and math by 2014.

Each elementary in Eagle County School District met the federal performance targets this year, while all the high schools and all but one middle school fell short.



The biggest improvement came from Avon Elementary, which met the federal standards for the first time since 2002, said principal Melisa Rewold-Thuon.

The school has faced a large and growing number of students who know little or no English over the past few years, which had led to steadily decreasing test scores.



Avon Elementary was placed on “School Improvement” status, meaning it hadn’t met federal goals for two consecutive years and was required to both create an improvement plan and provide busing for families wanting to send their kids to a higher performing school.

The school made a remarkable turnaround though. Last year, only 21 percent of Avon Elementary third-graders scored “proficient” or “advanced” on CSAP reading. This year 55 percent made the grade, a 34-point improvement. With the exception of fourth grade writing and math, Avon Elementary improved in every subject and grade level.

Rewold-Thuon attributes the school’s success to focusing more on the specific and different needs of each student and implementing some new school programs, such as the “Dual Language Program” and holding school on Saturdays for students behind in reading.



“We focused on individuals, and that’s how we made the growth,” Rewold-Thuon said.

Now, the challenge is to do it one more year, she said.

“We can do it ” it’s definitely going to be challenging, the same way it was last year, but I think if we still provide the services we’ve been doing in the past, and continue to track those students, we’ll make it,” Rewold-Thuon said.

At the heart of the No Child Left Behind law is a concept called Adequate Yearly Progress, which measures how much a school improves its test scores every year.

At every school in Colorado, a certain percentage of students must score advanced, proficient or partially proficient on the Colorado Student Assessment Program, or CSAP, for a school to meet No Child Left Behind standards.

That percentage of students needing to score well on the CSAP automatically goes up every year ” making federal goals increasingly more difficult to reach, said Mike Gass, director of secondary education.

“It’s a noble goal, but the reality of that is it’s extremely challenging as those targets continue to ratchet up,” Gass said.

No Child Left behind doesn’t just look at a school’s overall scores ” students are broken down by ethnicity, learning disabilities, socio-economic background and several other groups. Students must meet the target scores in each of these groups in order to meet No Child Left Behind standards.

This means a school’s overall scores might meet No Child Left Behind standards, but if certain groups of students don’t make it ” perhaps those in special education or with limited English skills ” the school doesn’t make the grade.

The more diverse a student population, the more performance goals a school must reach. That’s why middle schools and high schools, which have more students and more goals to reach, have a tough time meeting No Child Left Behind standards, Gass said.

Gypsum Creek Middle School, for instance, had 34 different performance goals to reach and actually met 32 of them ” about 94 percent. Many schools have to meet only about half that many goals.

Each of the middle schools had actually made federal goals last year ” but this year, only Eagle County Charter Academy made it.

Eagle Valley High School had met federal goals for the past two years, a rare feat for a high school, but didn’t make the grade this year. Red Canyon High School, Battle Mountain High School and New America School also didn’t meet federal goals.

“We’re still doing great things at those schools, but the targets get tighter and tighter every year,” Gass said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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