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Publish Date: 9/20/2005

Hanna Hansen, center, and her brother Jake Hansen wait for their mom, Jaime, to read a paper from school before walking home Monday from Rocky Mountain Elementary School in Longmont. The Adequate Yearly Progress report shows that the school has improved its reading and math scores. Times-Call/Erin McCracken

Schools on rebound
Yearly progress report points to significant gains for elementaries

LONGMONT — Spangler and Rocky Mountain elementary schools have reason to celebrate.

Test scores in reading and math at both schools greatly improved last year, helping them to meet all performance targets mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act’s Adequate Yearly Progress report.

Across the St. Vrain Valley School District, 10 out of 40 schools failed to meet AYP, the same number as last year, district director of assessments Sherri Stephens-Carter said. The only thing that changed was which schools failed.

The report, released by the Colorado Department of Education on Monday afternoon, takes Colorado Student Assessment Program test results and breaks scores out by subgroups, including whites, Hispanics, English-language learners, economically disadvantaged students and children with disabilities. The goal of AYP is for all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

To make AYP, 95 percent of a school’s students must take the CSAP test. Schools also must meet math and reading performance targets or decrease the percentage of students scoring non-proficient by 10 percent from the previous year. Schools also must have 1.1 percent of their students scoring at the advanced level.

High schools must meet specific graduation targets.

Spangler and Rocky Mountain are Title 1 schools, meaning they qualify for additional federal money because they have a high percentage of minority or economically disadvantaged students.

Title 1 schools that do not meet their AYP targets for two consecutive years are placed on school improvement, which means they must create school-improvement plans and the district must provide transportation for children whose parents wish to transfer them to higher-performing schools in the district.

Spangler failed to meet its AYP targets for four years in a row, which landed it on corrective action during the 2003-04 school year. The school had to meet the above requirements as well as provide supplemental tutoring services and take one of seven corrective actions.

Rocky Mountain missed its targets two years in a row and was placed on the first level of school improvement last year.

Because both schools met their performance targets in 2004-05, they will remain at the school-improvement level they occupied last year, Stephens-Carter said.

“I think they turned it around, and that is really good news,” she said.

Spangler principal Mark Lubbers said when CSAP results were released in July that adjusting the school’s schedule to include more time for core classes, like reading and math, was the biggest reason the school saw major improvement last year on the CSAPs.

Loma Linda Elementary School missed its AYP targets this year, landing it on its first level of school improvement, which carries no penalties, Stephens-Carter said.

“So many of our schools made AYP this year, and the ones that didn’t made almost all of their targets,” she said. That “confirms what we saw in the CSAP data. … We are making progress with kids in the unsatisfactory category.”

She added that children in all subgroups advanced on the standardized tests.

“When you make (AYP targets) with more groups of kids, it means we’re doing a better job of closing that gap,” Stephens-Carter said.

Three elementary schools, three middle schools and four high schools missed their AYP targets by one or two categories.

According to the Department of Education, the most difficult targets for Colorado schools to meet were for students with disabilities in both reading and math, Native Americans in both reading and math, and English-language learners in math performance.

In St. Vrain, it was Hispanic students, English-language learners, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities who caused schools to miss one to two of their performance targets.

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