The elementary, middle and high school, were all categorized as “approaching” for academic achievement and academic growth. In regards to the approaching category, Jeremy Meyer, Director of Com-munications at the Colorado Department of Education stated, “The performance levels indicate what a typical student at each level should know based on their command of grade-level standards. So the students are ‘approaching’ their command of the grade-level standards.”
One of the highest areas for the school district was the high school’s postsecondary and workforce read-iness with 69.7%. High School principal, Elizabeth Bauer, noted that they were particularly proud of the high schools’ graduation rate which was 96%. In other areas of interest, 8.3% of graduates seek further education at a 2-year higher education institution and 29.2% continues their education at a 4-year college.
K-8 principal Jess Buller commented that the elementary school is seeing higher achievement but lower growth and conversely the middle school is seeing higher growth but lower achievement. This higher growth is reflected in the middle school’s increase by one step in the performance framework for this academic school year.
“Coming from where we were with the middle school two years ago on ‘Priority Improvement Plan’ where we were meeting about 38% of the qualifying criteria for accreditation and now we are right around 50%… We are very pleased with the increase in growth,” said Principal Buller.
Ideally, the schools would indicate both higher growth and achievement; however, Principal Buller feels that the schools are making strides in terms of increased staff retention and a change in culture. The school district also recently adopted a new math series, Envision. In terms of math, the elementary school saw more growth on the CMAS (Colorado Measures of Academic Success) with a 54.5 and was higher than the state’s 50.0; in contrast, the elementary saw relatively low growth in English language arts (28.0). The middle and high school stayed relatively even in both content areas with math scores showing growth at the high school of 48.0 and the middle school at 40.0. For English language arts, the high school was at 46.0 and the middle school was at 44.0. The state’s growth is at 50 which is considered an average year of growth.
In looking at West Grand schools, we have seen that, while they are certainly not failing, too many students are still not proficient within all subject matters. Academic growth is happening at a slower pace than is average in the state and growth gaps among disaggregated students remain par-ticularly large. In the future, a hot-topic could arise as more parents choose to opt-out of state testing. Today, the state requires 95% participation, but does not penalize the school. However, federal mandates often tie school performance and participation to money incentives.
Superintendent Darrin Peppard stated, “This is a really good baseline… going forward we are working on a strategic plan for the District directly related to instruction and aligning our curriculum to state standards K-12 and focusing on our English Language Learners to not only speak the language but un-derstanding from an academic stand point.”