Most of the 17 school districts in El Paso and Teller counties experienced slight improvement in Colorado Measures of Academic Success test scores in 2018, but mirroring the statewide trend, most also continued to see fewer than half of their students meet or exceed expectations in both English language arts and math.
“I think every district was anticipating this would be a big change when we moved to these assessments, and we didn’t expect success overnight,” said Devra Ashby, spokeswoman for Colorado Springs School District 11, the region’s largest school district.
“However, as you look at the patterns, we’re moving the needle in the right direction,” she said.
Only four of the 17 districts saw at least 50 percent of third- through eighth-grade students meet or exceed expectations in English language arts.
They were led by Cheyenne Mountain with 68.6 percent, followed by Lewis-Palmer D-38 at 61.9 percent, Academy D-20 at 59.8 percent and Peyton 23-JT at 50.8 percent.
Three of the 17 area districts recorded a drop in English scores from the previous year in the percent of students in grades three through eight meeting or exceeding expectations: the small districts of Calhan RJ-1, down 9.4 percentage points to 32 percent, Cripple Creek-Victor RE-1, down 9.1 percentage points to 30.4 percent, and Edison 54-JT, down 2.4 percentage points to 47.6 percent.
In math, only three districts saw half or more of their students meet or exceed expectations, led by Edison 54-JT with 66.7 percent, followed by Cheyenne Mountain D-12 at 61.5 percent and Lewis-Palmer D-38 with 50.4 percent.
The state introduced new academic standards and matching tests in 2015, moving from being taken with paper and pencil to computers and contain lengthier, more complex problems to solve instead of just answering multiple choice questions.
It’s important to keep state assessments in perspective, education leaders say. They are just one tool school districts use to measure student progress and teacher performance and accountability.
When it comes down to it, D-11’s Director of Assessment Eric Mason, said, “Whether Colorado Springs students score in the highest in the nation on standardized tests will not determine if a kid is ready to be a successful citizen.”
Gazette statistician Burt Hubbard contributed to this article.