Science an area of strength in Mancos schools, scores show

Three out of four Mancos students are proficient in reading, half are capable of writing, 3 in 5 are skilled at science and slightly more than half are adept in mathematics.

"Compared to a lot of districts in this area, I think our students performed really, really well," said Catherine Fox, a Mancos High School science teacher for the past six years. "It was extraordinary to see the gains the students made."

The Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) is Colorado's standards-based assessment designed to provide a picture of student performance to schools, districts, educators, parents and the community. Students are tested in reading, writing and math from third through 10th grade, and tested in science in fifth, eighth and 10th grades.

Overall, Mancos students have experienced a slight, but steady decrease in writing over the last three years, despite conscious efforts to improve those scores. Last year, Mancos students were 4 percentage points shy of meeting the state's median writing proficiency of 55 percent.

"We have to continue to try and unravel that mystery," said district superintendent Brian Hanson.

To increase literacy skills, one measure adopted two years ago in the high school is a "Stop, Drop and Read" initiative. Fox explained the program requires students to read something of their choice for 15 minutes during certain times of the school day.

Mathematics is another subject Mancos students lag behind their peers across the state, but students in Mancos did better than average last year in reading and science.

"We had some incredible successes, and we have some areas that we need to improve," Hanson said.

Fox attributes the school's success to a rigorous and challenging curriculum, hard work from students, strong parental involvement and an environment where students are encouraged to take risk.

"If you have those four components, then you will have a school of rock stars," she said.

Hanson said it's critical to remember that TCAP scores are based on a single test given on a single day.

He said scores could be impacted if a student, for example, arrives to school on the day in question with added outside stress.

He also attributed high teacher turnover margins and an increased student transient population to negatively affecting TCAP scores.

Over the last three years, Mancos students overall have recorded slight, yet steady increases in reading, and recorded slight, yet steady decreases in writing.

When compared with the previous year, Mancos students saw a slight decrease in mathematics, and a significant increase in science.

Across the Mancos Re-6 School District, girls far outperformed boys in reading, writing and science while boys slightly outpaced girls in mathematics.