TCAP tests show strength in reading

Scores in six grades that meet or exceed standard top Colo. average

The results of the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program tests released in August showed Mancos students' rates of success are meeting or exceeding the rates of their peers across the state almost half the time.

Reading was the district's strongest subject compared with the state average. In six grade levels, the percentage of students who met or exceeded the standards topped the state's average.

The rate of students meeting or exceeding expectations in math declined below 50 percent between seventh and 10th grade. In a group interview, Superintendent Brian Hanson and new high school Principal Adam Priestley attributed this to high turnover of teachers.

In general, scores tended to drop in seventh grade, a point that was discussed at the Aug. 18 school board meeting. At that time, administrators considered a lack of maturity among the age group as a possible cause for the decline. A high turnover of teachers might have also contributed, they said in an interview.

In writing, student success fell below the state average in five grade levels. Hanson said this area is one that has needed improvement for some time, and the district planned to continue to integrate writing into other core subjects.

To encourage data driven discussions on how to improve performance, the school plans to dedicate almost every other Friday this semester to staff time. Some of this time will be spent in peer coaching.

This will "provide time for teachers to be able to thoughtfully discuss and have conversation about strengths and needs," Elementary Principal Cathy Epps said.

One of the cultural problems the staff is facing is a lack of student interest in the tests, Hanson said.

Finding out how to bring more meaning to the standardized tests is a question that the district needs to be working on, Epps said.

The state is moving toward a greater emphasis on standardized test scores by integrating them into graduation requirements. Currently, the state documents say that the freshmen entering high school in 2017 will have to achieve minimum test scores in English, math, science, and social studies to graduate.

However, the state plans to accept a variety of tests outside of the state standardized tests, including the ACT, SAT and the military entrance exam.

"We are already looking at trying to be prepared for that," Priestley said.

In the more immediate future, the district is facing new standardized tests called the Colorado Measures of Academic Success, which will be administered by computer in November. Fourth- and seventh-graders will be tested on social studies, and high school seniors will be tested on social studies and science.

Math, reading and writing tests will be administered, as usual, during the spring semester.