Vail Valley reading scores show achievement gap |

Vail Valley reading scores show achievement gap

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – The number of third-graders in Vail Valley public schools who scored proficient on this year’s Colorado Student Assessment Program reading test slipped slightly compared with last year.

As first reported on Tuesday, a total of 69 percent of students who took the test scored proficient or advanced in 2010, compared to 71 percent last year.

The state Department of Education released the third grade reading results Tuesday. Students took the test in February. The state plans to release the rest of the CSAP test results in August.

Four out of 10 elementary schools – including June Creek Elementary in Edwards, Red Sandstone Elementary in Vail, along with Red Hill and Gypsum elementary schools in Gypsum – showed modest improvements in the third-grade reading scores compared with last year.

However, some of the district’s schools with the lowest percentage of English-speaking students saw dips since last year.

At Avon Elementary in Avon, where 16 percent of students are English speaking, the number of third-graders who scored proficient or advanced on the test dropped from 64 percent last year to 42 percent this year.

Avon Principal Melisa Rewold-Thuon said this year’s class of third graders included about half as many English speakers as last year’s third grade class, which could help to explain the dip in students who scored proficient. The class also included a significantly higher percentage of special education students, she said.

Just 25 percent of the students were reading at grade level when they entered the third grade, she said.

“We have a significant number of kids in that group who are not acquiring English as quickly as we would want,” she said. “We worked really hard. We had a lot of interventions in place for those kids – putting them in smaller groups, bringing in supplemental teachers, sending them to Saturday school.”

Despite those interventions, the test results suggest some of those Spanish-speaking students struggled with a language barrier on the reading test.

“Also on this year’s test, I felt there were a lot of culturally-biased test items,” Rewold-Thuon said.

Teachers will continue working to bring the students to proficiency, she said.

“We would like to have seen higher scores but we do believe the kids made a lot of growth this year from where we saw they were in the beginning of the year,” she said.

At Meadow Mountain Elementary in Eagle-Vail, where 42 percent of students are English speaking, the number of third-graders who scored proficient or advanced dropped from 61 percent last year to 41 percent this year.

Two other schools – Edwards Elementary in Edwards and Eagle Valley Elementary in Eagle – saw modest drops in the number of students scoring proficient compared with last year.

Brush Creek Elementary in Eagle and Eagle County Charter Academy in Edwards both stayed flat, with 88 percent of students scoring proficient.

The highest-performing school is Red Sandstone Elementary in Vail with 92 percent of students scoring proficient, up from 88 percent last year.

Co-principal Harry McQueeney credits a new reading program. The district adopted Literacy By Design last year. Also a factor, monthly tests the students take through the a state Closing the Achievement Gap program have helped teachers to identify and improve problem areas, McQueeney said.

Red Sandstone is also among those schools in the district with the most English speakers. Eighty-one percent of students at the school speak English.

In general, the scores suggest an achievement gap persists between Anglo and Latino students in the district.

While 95 percent of the district’s English-speaking third-graders scored proficient on the test, just 40 percent of third-graders for whom English is a second language scored proficient.

Heather Eberts, a district official who deals with curriculum, said in a press release the test scores indicate the district needs to continue to challenge all students.

“Not only will we continue to work towards closing the achievement gap between English-language learners and native English-speaking students, but we continue to aim to increase the growth of all students, including our highest achievers,” she said.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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