School district takes aim at achievement gap |

School district takes aim at achievement gap

Matt Terrell
Vail CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” The school district has set some new goals this year for closing so called “achievement gaps” ” those disparities in performance between the poor and the well-off and between Hispanic students and Caucasian students.

Students who know little or no English, who now make up close to 40 percent of the school district, continually lag far behind their English-speaking peers on the Colorado Student Assessment Program, known as CSAP.

Students who live in poverty also lag behind other students on state tests.

This year, the school district hopes to increase the number of students showing growth on standardized tests and meeting their individual goals for improvement. This will be measured by several assessments, including the Colorado Growth Model, which tracks a student’s CSAP scores from one year to the next and determines if they’re making enough improvements.

The school district also hopes to “align” preschool-through-12th-grade curriculum ” which means making sure all teachers know what’s expected at every grade level and every subject, and that they know what needs to be taught and when the students need to learn it.

The school district also will increase the number of students not fluent in English who are receiving individualized and effective English instruction. This will be measured by standardized test results, and by observation.

Earlier this year, the school district was chosen by the state to pilot the “Closing the Achievement Gap Program,” and the district’s new goals were written to go along with the program.

The three-year pilot program began with a detailed study of the school district performed by the Department of Education, which gave administrators a better idea of what exactly needs to be done and where the biggest problems are. This summer, state officials have been working with the school district to decide what sort of new programs would be the best fit for Eagle County.

The district will receive its own full-time consultant, paid for by the state, who will work in Eagle County and coordinate the new programs.

The program will go into effect this school year, and it will be watched, analyzed and tweaked over the next three years.

School officials have said the achievement gap is one of the biggest problems in the school district and the state. The trouble is that educators have had a hard time finding the funding and resources to make big changes.

Eagle County and five other school districts were chosen for the pilot program ” Greeley-Evans School District, Roaring Fork School District, St. Vrain Valley School District, Summit School District and Yuma School District also were chosen.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or

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