MONTROSE – School starts Aug. 23 in Montrose County, and the Montrose School Board met with county administrators Tuesday morning for a crash course in how the school system is doing, overall.
Principals and assistant principals from the county’s 15 schools, which serve 6,311 students, received a thick booklet titled “State of the District — 2010-11 School Year.”
Several staff members gave presentations to the administrators including the good news that graduation rates for Montrose High and Olathe high are 14 and 16 points higher than the state average, respectively.
Graduation rates for 2010 won’t be ready until January of 2011, but the 2009 graduation rate for Montrose High was 88.6 percent for 2009 and 90.2 percent for Olathe High. The state average for 2009 was 74.6 percent.
There was more good news with the release Tuesday of the state CSAP scores, for the Colorado Student Assessment Program, which showed improvement across the district.
Although individual schools showed both losses and gains on the scores, a few scores show dramatic increases. Cottonwood Elementary went from 65 percent proficiency in third grade math last year to 87 percent proficiency in 2010. Oak Grove Elementary also jumped from 66 percent proficiency in math to 82 percent this year. Complete results can be viewed at the state Department of Education website at www.cde.state.co.us.
The Denver Post noted in a story on Tuesday that this was the first time CSAP scores had been presented without a governor’s news conference or fanfare, “an indication the state is shifting its focus from CSAP to a much broader look at schools through its performance reports, set for release later this year.”
The state will release its first school performance reports in December, according to the Post, when it will “look at CSAP scores, ACT results, how well the schools are growing academically and whether they are preparing students for their post-secondary lives.”
According to the article, the change in school ratings was mandated by the state legislature in 2009 “to create a new education accountability system for the state.” Schools will be ranked on a continuum that ranges from “accredited with distinction” to “accredited with a turnaround plan.”
Curriculum director Sheryl Solow announced the results at the Tuesday morning meeting and said the news had been embargoed until 10 a.m. that day.
Solow said that CSAP scores can be expected to fluctuate from year to year, but the real test of a school is how well it has done over time. Olathe Elementary is an example of a school that has done well in longitudinal studies, she said, and was recently honored by the state.
In a June 16 letter to Olathe Elementary principal Joe Brummitt from the state Department of Education, Commissioner of Education Dwight Jones wrote that the school has been selected to receive a Centers of Excellence Award, given each year to schools that “demonstrate the highest rates of student longitudinal academic growth” and have a student population considered at least 75 percent at risk.
Jones wrote that the award was authorized by the legislature last year “to recognize and reward the success of those schools that produce outstanding academic growth, even in the fact of significant challenges. I commend the Olathe Elementary School for being one of the first recipients of this prestigious honor.”
Along with the award comes a check for $10,000, which Brummitt said he hasn’t seen yet, but he will put to good use, probably for professional development.
Olathe Elementary went from eight periods to seven periods in the school day starting this semester, Brummitt said, but the day is a few minutes longer. He credited his staff with the school’s success, and said his leadership team worked hard on a new vision for the school that emphasizes three things: “excellence, accountability, and dare to dream.”