West Grand High School chalks up top performance marks | SkyHiNews.com

West Grand High School chalks up top performance marks

Tonya Bina
Kremmling, CO Colorado

West Grand High School has been crowned a top performing school, based on the Colorado Department of Education’s ratings released last week.

The school, with 114 students, received both the “Colorado John Irwin Schools of Excellence” award as well as the “Colorado Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award.”

The Governor’s Distinguished Improvement awards are given to schools that demonstrate excellent student growth. Within the school performance framework that is used by the state to evaluate schools, these schools “exceed” expectations on the indicator related to longitudinal academic growth and “meet or exceed” expectations on the indicator related to academic growth gaps.

In 2011, West Grand High was one of 162 of all Colorado schools that earned this award.

John Irwin awards are given to schools that demonstrate excellent academic achievement. These schools “exceed” expectations on the academic achievement indicator and “meet or exceed” expectations on the academic growth gaps indicator. In 2011, West Grand was one of 150 Colorado schools that earned this award.

Academic “growth” is based on progress using the Colorado Growth Model. Growth “Gaps” is an indicator that measures the progress of historically disadvantaged student subgroups and students needing to catch up.

“Our kids are continuing to grow their scores at a high rate compared to the state average,” said West Grand Principal Kyle York, who started at the school this year.

As far as getting an award for achievement as well as an award for improvement, “that’s hard to do,” York said. “Not a lot of schools out there have high achievement plus high growth.”

The reason, he said, is once a school is performing at a high level, there isn’t as much “space to show high growth,” he said.

In the latest rating profiles of schools and districts, West Grand High School scored a 90.4 percent overall on performance averaged during three years. If just looking at the latest year of performance, West Grand scored 81.9. The school exceeds state standards in academic achievement, academic growth, closing growth gaps and meets standards for workforce readiness among students in grades 9 and 10.

The scores are based on state standardized testing in math, writing, science and reading, and they take into account the improvement leaps students achieve from year to year.

“It’s the quality of teaching happening,” York said. “They’re focusing on the right things as far as what students know and master.”

By the time students from West Grand Middle School reach the sophomore level at the high school, 20 percent more students are scoring in the proficient and advanced level in reading, writing and science, York said.

But the principal says more work can be done, especially in the category of math.

“One of things we’re focusing on over here is improving that. We want to get math scores to where we have writing, reading and science scores,” he said.

The school has implemented a “flex program” during which students performing low in math have access to a “math lab,” and a flexible class period at the end of the day provides certain students the opportunity to go over concepts they struggle with in all the main subjects, math, reading, writing and science.

“They continue to do that until they can show us they’ve mastered the skills,” York said. “Even though we’re receiving awards, we still are continuing to push and try to even make our school that much better.”

This is the second consecutive year West Grand has been awarded the Governor’s growth award, and the first year in recent history the school has received the John Irwin award, which is given out to the top 8 percent of schools in the state.

Once finals are over, the school plans to reward students with a pep rally or some other type of celebration, York said.

As far as performance ratings of other grade levels in the West Grand district, the West Grand Elementary School students grades 3rd through 5th scored an overall 73 percent on performance last year. The score meets the state standards in academic growth and achievement, but “approaches” the state standards in closing growth gaps.

The West Grand Middle School one-year results rated 37.5 percent overall. The state is requiring of the school a “priority improvement plan” for its lower than average scores.

The West Grand School District as a whole was given an “accredited” rating, which means it approaches or meets statewide performance standards.

East Grand Schools

The Fraser Valley Elementary School out-performed other East Grand School District schools in the latest School Performance Framework Report, which the Colorado Department of Education released last week.

Third through 5th grade students at the 248-student school scored an overall 89.7 percent in academic achievement, academic growth, academic growth gaps and post secondary readiness.

Academic “growth” is based on progress using the Colorado Growth Model. Growth “Gaps” is an indicator that measures the progress of historically disadvantaged student subgroups and students needing to catch up.

Principal James Chamberlin attributes the school’s success to the “hard work of the students and teachers to really look at curriculum alignment,” he said, as well as teachers attentiveness to how “interventions are helping students improve.”

The performance frameworks are based on last spring’s Colorado Student Assessment Program scores.

A “Reading Buddies” program at Fraser Elementary and the third year of having a core elementary literacy program called “Reading Street” have also helped to boost performance, Chamberlin said.

“I’m very proud of the students and staff at Fraser and am excited to continue the success of high academic achievement,” he said.

Other schools in the district

Granby Elementary School scored an overall 71 percent rating from last spring’s results, and Grand Lake Elementary School, which closed for budget reasons after last year’s school year, scored a 76.6 percent overall.

Both schools met the state’s standards in academic achievement, growth and in closing growth gaps.

Granby Elementary School had 295 students; Grand Lake, 60 students. All three elementary schools in the East Grand School District were assigned Performance Plans, which means they met or exceeded statewide performance.

The Indian Peaks Charter School, with an enrollment of 55, scored a 41.6 percent overall in its performance framework, which is considered among the lowest 5 percent in the state. The state has assigned a Turnaround Plan to the school.

If the school posts five consecutive years of low performance, according to the CDE, the state board can “choose to remove its accreditation.”

The East Grand Middle School performed at 77.2 percent. That school’s 266 students met requirements in academic achievement, growth and growth gaps.

The Middle Park High School performed at 62.4 percent, and is meeting academic achievement and workforce readiness, but is “approaching” growth and growth gaps. It and the middle school were both assigned performance plans.

As far as the district as whole, East Grand was rated “accredited.” The district’s academic achievement and growth meets the state’s expectations, while the district exceeds in post-secondary and workforce readiness.

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