Cortez 3rd-graders reading below Colorado average

One in 10 Colorado third-graders performed unsatisfactory on state reading exams this year. The rate was nearly double for third-graders in the Montezuma-Cortez School District.

According to preliminary and unofficial 2014 TCAP reading scores provided by the Colorado Department of Education, 19 percent of the district’s third-graders performed unsatisfactory this year on state reading test, compared with 10 percent across Colorado. Less than half, 46 percent, of local third-graders were proficient at reading compared with 65 percent across the state. Thirty-two 32 percent of the area’s youngest readers were partially proficient,compared to 18 percent of their Colorado peers. And only three percent of the district’s third-graders scored advanced compared with seven percent across the state.

“This data did not come as a big surprise to our teachers and school leaders,” Superintendent Alex Carter said.

Carter said local educators have worked with struggling readers throughout the school year, and based on multiple assessments, those students had made some promising gains.

“We did hope that the (TCAP) data would be slightly higher,” Carter said. “As is often the case, the data returns came in slightly below the performance levels we have been seeing with this group.”

Proficient and advanced combined; 2014 third-grade reading scores were 49 percent, three percent lower than 2013 scores. Asked to attribute the trend, Carter said it was impossible to answer the question, because the performance of 2013 students was unrelated to the performance of this year’s students.

“There can be no trend,” Carter said. “To compare them would be apples to oranges, and thus would be a fruitless task.”

An advanced rating signifies above grade-level performance, a proficient rating is equal to performing at grade level, partially proficient indicates slightly below grade level performance and unsatisfactory demonstrates significantly below grade level performance.

Mesa Elementary

At 8 percent, Mesa Elementary third-graders had the largest number of students who tested at an advanced level in reading. The school also had 41 percent that were proficient, 31 percent who were partially proficient, and 20 percent who performed unsatisfactorily.

“Our third-grade TCAP scores were not what we expected,” said Mesa Elementary Principal KD Umbarger. “A huge celebration was that six students in the district scored advanced, and five of those were Mesa students.”

Umbarger echoed Carter, stating that district reading assessments showed that students were performing at a much higher level than the TCAP results.

“We are looking at the state data along with the district data to come up with root causes,” she said. “From there, we will make real-time adjustments to improve our test scores in the future.”

Kemper Elementary

Kemper Elementary third-graders proficient at reading totaled 53 percent, 34 percent were partially proficient, and 11 percent were unsatisfactory. Nearly 2 percent of the school’s third-graders tested at an advanced level.

“Our staff and students are working diligently to increase our performance on TCAP,” Kemper Elementary Principal Angela Galyon said.

Galyon said her third-grade students with significant reading deficiencies (students performing more than two years below grade level) were also identified, and their progress monitored throughout the school year.

“We are very happy that only 11 percent of our students in this third-grade class scored in the unsatisfactory range,” Galyon said. “This is an indication that the interventions we are providing for students with significant reading deficiencies are working.”

Manaugh Elementary

Manaugh Elementary third-graders proficient at reading totaled 37 percent, equal to the number of students who tested partially proficient. Twenty-six percent of the school’s third-graders tested unsatisfactory in reading, and none tested at an advanced level.

“At Manaugh, we were encouraged to note that our percent of students proficient or advanced increased by seven percent,” said Principal Donetta Dehart. “We decreased the number of unsatisfactory students and increased the number of students who were partially proficient or proficient compared to the results of the 2013 TCAP assessment.”

Dehart said third grade students have never taken the TCAP, which means there is no state data to compare growth with and establish trends. In direct response to the state’s READ Act, Dehart added that both struggling students and those at grade level undertake 30-minute daily interventions at the school in addition to 90-minute daily instructions in reading.

“It is Manaugh’s desire that applying these strategies, and others, through great instructional situations, will continue to increase the achievement of our third grade students for each year to come,” Dehart said.

Lewis-Arriola Elementary

At 57 percent proficient, Lewis-Arriola Elementary had the highest third-grade reading scores across the district. The school, however, also had the highest number of third graders, 24 percent, who performed unsatisfactory. Less than 20 percent of the school’s third-graders were partially proficient, and none tested at an advanced level.

Attempts to reach Lewis-Arriola Elementary Principal Dan Porter were unsuccessful.

No records were available for Pleasant View Elementary or Battle Rock Charter School.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com