Tests point to work ahead

Schools do well in county, drop compared with state

TCAP scores, released by the Colorado Department of Education last month, show that Dolores schools fell back a bit this year below state averages, but remain competitive locally.

Students and teachers at Dolores schools will have to work hard this year, according to test scores released last month.

Scores from the standardized tests students took last school year during the spring show that Dolores students did well when compared with other schools in Montezuma County, but fell a bit behind when compared with state scores.

"We really try to match or exceed the state's averages," Dolores School District Superintendent Scott Cooper said.

Cooper was a bit surprised that the district dropped over the years in the number of students scoring proficient or advanced and has fallen short of meeting or exceeding the state average in most areas. In the past three years, the district has gone from 76.5 percent students proficient and advanced in reading in the testing year of 2012 to 68.6 percent of the students in 2014. That number pushed Dolores schools just slightly below the student average statewide for reading, which is 69 percent proficient and advanced.

Cooper added that the TCAP scores are just one piece of the puzzle. The district assesses students in other ways all year long, and those assessments showed that Dolores students were doing better than the TCAP results showed.

"We assess students with the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association). and those tests are usually pretty accurate - they just weren't this year. Our NWEA scores have been showing growth," Cooper said.

In addition, students statewide tended to drop or grow only slightly, according to test results released to the public last month, in nearly all areas.

Math scores at the Dolores Middle School and High School showed sharp drops, according to TCAP results.

At the high school in Dolores, 25 percent of the students tested proficient or advanced in the subject, while the statewide average is 34.5 percent. At the middle school in Dolores, 47.5 percent of the students tested proficient or advanced in math. The Colorado average is 56 percent.

Cooper said the schools have hired two new math teachers at the secondary level to help address the math gap and he hopes that realigning curriculum and the order in which math classes are taught will help.

Cooper said there were some bright spots in the results, which came in the form of pages and pages of data.

"Reading in the third grade was very good," he said.

He added that the schools have made a big push this year to reduce class size to help students and teachers tremendously.

An additional third-grade teacher was added this year, and next year, Cooper said, the school plans to add a fourth-grade teacher.

In addition to high third-grade reading scores, the ninth grade had tremendous gains in its reading scores.

Ninth-graders also scored well in the writing portion of the TCAP.

Fourth-graders tested well in math last year, as well.

Cooper plans to improve middle school test scores by requiring more core classes. Students at the middle school have seven classes a day, and last year they were allowed to take three electives. This year, Cooper said, they will take only two electives and five core classes.

At the elementary, Cooper said there's going to be a push for Everyday Math, which tends to help students review math yearlong.

"It is going to be a good year," he said.

For more information, visit: www.schoolview.org/ColoradoGrowthModel.asp.