State lawmakers laud local schools | VailDaily.com

State lawmakers laud local schools

EAGLE COUNTY – State lawmakers honored the local school district for its progress in the past year.

The honor, presented by Rep. Millie Hamner, recognizes the Eagle County school district for improvement in several categories, including better-than-average graduation rates and progress in closing the achievement gap for minority students.

Hamner represents Eagle, Lake and Summit counties in Colorado’s state House of Representatives.

Gypsum Creek Elementary School principal Mitch Forsberg was named a National Distinguished Principal, and Gypsum Elementary School was named a Title 1 Distinguished School.

“The members of the Colorado House of Representatives are proud to honor the exemplary performance of the faculty, staff, and students of Eagle County School District, and wish them many years of continued success,” Hamner said.

In statewide Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) testing, 74 percent of Eagle County’s third-graders scored as proficient readers, up from 69 percent last year.

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Much of the improvement came directly from two schools, Avon Elementary and Gypsum Elementary.

Avon Elementary saw the most local improvement in closing the achievement gap.

Last year, 39 percent of the school’s third-graders were proficient or advanced readers. This year, 73 percent were.

Just 16 percent of the school’s students are native English speakers, said Melisa Rewold-Thuon, Avon Elementary’s principal.

With Forsberg at the helm, Gypsum Elementary was one of two schools in Colorado to be named a 2010 National Distinguished Title I School for Closing the Achievement Gap.

The school decreased the achievement gap by the highest percentage of any Colorado school.

“Eagle County Schools is honored to have been recognized by the Colorado House of Representatives,” said Dr. Sandra Smyser, superintendent of Eagle County Schools.

Eagle County Schools is recognized as a national leader in education reform, Smyser said.

Eagle County’s school district was the first in the state, and one of the first in the nation, to completely eliminate the lock-step salary, which is based on seniority or tenure, and successfully create a performance-pay system, Smyser said.

Smyser also pointed to the district’s efforts to increase student achievement while closing the gap between English Language Learners and native English-speaking students.

“This statewide recognition is something we are extremely proud of,” Smyser said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.