State-level results from the 2016 administration of Academic Success (CMAS) tests in math and language arts show areas of improvement and stabilization in test participation rates across the state.
Students in Delta County were introduced to both a new testing format and the implementation of new math curriculum last school year. There's normally a dip in scores with the implementation of new curriculum, said Kurt Clay, assistant superintendent for Delta County Joint School District #50. But after just one year of GO Math! test scores in Delta County went up in every grade level with the exception of the third grade.
English language arts scores were also positive.
"Overall, it was a very good year for our students," Clay said.
The assessments are being used to produce a school performance framework that will rate schools based on academic growth, academic achievement, learning gaps, and postsecondary and workforce readiness. Reports for every school in the state are due out in October.
The CMAS tests are aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards and are the only common academic measurement for all students in Colorado, said Katy Anthes, Colorado's Commissioner of Education. However, she also said parents should keep in mind that these tests are just one measure of student achievement.
"Only when the tests are considered together with classroom grades and teacher feedback can parents have a complete picture of a student's academic achievement," Anthes said.
More than 408,000 students in third- through ninth-grade took the standardized tests in English language arts and math.
In Delta County, participation in the traditional schools averaged 95 percent overall. Clay said participation is lowest among high school students, a trend that has been noted statewide.
The lowest participation rates are at Vision Charter Academy, although the trend is moving up. Willyn Webb, VCA executive director, noted testing participation rates improved by 50 percent from the 2014-15 school year to the 2015-2016 school year.
"We want to acknowledge the efforts of the staff and Parent Vanguard Association in creating awareness of the value of assessments and the resulting participation," she said.
The assessment data will be combined with three other performance indicators -- academic growth, academic gaps and postsecondary and workforce readiness -- to produce district and school performance frameworks, due out in October.
For districts, the overall evaluation leads to accreditation. For schools, the overall evaluation leads to the type of plan schools will implement. Districts will continue to accredit schools, and they may do so using the state's performance framework or using their own framework.
Schools will be assigned one of four plan types -- performance plan, improvement plan, priority improvement plan or turnaround plan.
Based on assessment data, it's possible Vision Charter Academy could be a turnaround school. Measures for improving student growth and achievement are already being addressed by VCA staff and will be part of the discussion as VCA's three-year contract comes up for renewal this year. VCA is also being encouraged to adopt the district calendar to increase instructional time. VCA students start school later in the fall and are in the classroom four days a week, with the expectation students will spend Fridays on some type of educational project at home.