The number of students enrolled in public schools rated as "unsatisfactory" has dropped by more than 80 percent in three years that the state has ranked schools based on test scores.
School ratings also improved significantly during the latest test period, reflecting a shift toward basic skills with an emphasis on reading.
Among the state's 1,775 schools, 198 earned "significant improvement"' ratings and 212 showed improvement from the previous year. Overall, 187 of the state's schools earned excellent ratings; 507 were rated high; 634 average; 394 low; 32 unsatisfactory and 21 were not rated.
The ratings are based on student scores on Colorado Student Assessment Program tests and the American College Test in grades
3 through 11.
The tests were administered last spring, measuring performance in the 2002-2003 school year.
To see results of individual schools and districts:
One Southern Colorado school district is especially proud of its ratings---Harrison D2.
Of it’s 23 schools, last year, two rated as “unsatisfactory” and 15 ranked as “low.” This year, no schools were “unsatisfactory” and only 11 were “low.”
Bricker Elementary grade jumped from “low” to “average” this year. So it's been awarded the Distinguished Improvement Award by the state. Lilette Wheatman is a teacher who helps with reading in classrooms at the school. She says the added one-on-one time is helping the students learn. "They pull little groups, maybe 3-6 students per group and concentrate on what skills they need," she says.
The school is in a lower economic area of Colorado Springs with 69 percent of its students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches. Principal Amy McCord says this award is all thanks to the staff and the extra focus given to teachers by the district. "We have time allotted every day for literacy and math---stipulated by the district. We have curriculum stipulated by the district."
Dian Darr, the Coordinator of Assessment for District 2, says they expected to move up, but they're thrilled about how much improvement has been made. She credits during and after school programs, along with additional teacher training. And Darr says these scores are moving the district in the right direction. "We want to look average and better. We don't want to look low and we think our kids are better than that."
At Bricker, the extra attention to struggling students and the skills they need to read, write and do math is paying off. "We're teaching reading because if you concentrate on what the skills are, the test will take care of itself."
Students will once again take the CSAPS this spring. How they do will be a large part of next year's school grades.