For more years than it can count, the staff at Paonia Elementary School (PES) has given dog tags (renamed Eagle tags) to students for advanced achievement and high growth on the state assessments. Last year was the first year for the new state tests in English language arts (ELA) and math, so this year they did not have the multi-year data required to recognize growth. However, whereas PES previously only recognized advanced scores, the bar has been raised substantially with the new tests, making it worthwhile to recognize students who both met and exceeded expectations. At this year's Eagle tag assembly, students from fourth through sixth grades were recognized for their exceptional performance last year. As is the tradition, Eagle tags were also sent up to the junior high for the seventh graders who met or exceeded expectations as sixth graders.
The grade-level percentages of PES students who met or exceeded expectations in ELA and math ranged from 52-79 percent. In contrast, the state percentages for the same grade levels and content areas ranged from 30-42 percent. Although there is still plenty of room for growth, PES clearly outperformed the state of Colorado in the first year of the more rigorous multi-state ELA and math tests.
In addition to recognizing students for ELA and math, PES presented Eagle tags to students who demonstrated distinguished command or strong command of content contained in the state tests for science (fifth grade) and social studies (fourth grade).
The staff of PES is very proud of its school and what its students achieved last year. As this year's state tests start, the staff is equally excited to see how this year's achievement results will compare. More importantly, since it is the second year of the new tests, PES is anxious to see how much students grew from last year. Chasing achievement results is like tilting at windmills, but every student should learn from year to year and how much they learn ought to manifest itself as measurable growth. As long as the staff at PES maintains its laser focus on student growth, it is fully believed that achievement will take care of itself.
The guide for the accompanying fourth, fifth and sixth grade pictures is ELA=E, math=M, science=SC, and social studies=SS. Gold Eagle tags were presented to those who exceeded expectations in ELA and math or had distinguished command in science or social studies. If students earned a gold Eagle tag in one of the aforementioned content areas, the content area letter(s) is preceded by a G.