Schools show some gains in reading, math on TCAP

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — While School District 27J’s TCAP scores showed improvement in reading and math, there was an overall decline in writing scores, with five out of eight grade levels showing lower levels of proficient or advanced scores. 

Results from the Colorado Department of Education show the percentage of students who scored proficient or advanced decreased from 2013 across all grade levels in reading, writing and math at the state level. Test scores for science were not included in this years scores, as the science tests administered in 2014 transitioned to the new Colorado Measures of Academic Success test.

Organizational Management Director Peggy Robertson said highlights of the 2014 results included seven out of 24 tests scoring at or above the state level, including third, fourth and fifth grade reading; fifth grade writing and third fourth and fifth grade math. The district achieved the highest proficient or advanced scores in its history on six tests – fourth, fifth, seventh and 10th grade reading as well as fourth and fifth grade math – with scores in fourth hand fifth grade reading and fifth grade reaching an all-time high score for the third year and a row. 

“We didn’t have as many scores improve this year but we still have a number of scores – we had 46 percent of our scores – improve this year in our proficient and advanced scores,” she said.

Robertson also pointed out that 21 percent of test scores stayed the same in 2014 and eight scores declined from 2013 but points to a trend that the district is seeing a trend of test scores improving over time.



Students met or exceeded the state’s percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced in the third, fourth and fifth grades. Fourth grade students reading scored increased 2.58 percentage points in 2014 to 70.55 percent of students scoring at or above state level, and was 3.1 percentage points above the state’s average. Test scores for the fifth grade increased by 1.56 percentage points to 71.64 percent, but remained slightly higher than the state average of 70.99 percent. Third grade test scores decreased by 1.53 percentage points to 72.05 percent, students remained slightly above the state average of 71.58.

Although seventh, eighth and 10th grade reading scores were lower than the state average, by 5.54, 5.69 and 5.05 percentage points, respectfully, they did improve over the district’s reading scores from 2013. Seventh grade scores increased 2.92 percentage points to 63.17 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in reading, eighth grade scores increased 2.82 percentage points to 60.66 percent and 10th grade scores increased 0.85 to 63.85 in 2014.

Reading scores for students in the sixth, ninth, and 10th grades did not improve over the district’s 2013 scores and came in below the state average of students scoring proficient or advanced on the test. Sixth grade test scores decreased by 1.58 percentage points to 64.35 percent, which is 7.11 percentage points lower than the state average and ninth grade test scores decreased 1.94 percentage points to 60.58 percent, which is 5.57 percentage points lower than the state. 



The district’s student’s did not fare as well with the writing portion of the TCAP, as fifth grade was the only grade to score at or above state level. The percentage of fifth graders who scored proficient or advance increased 0.74 percentage points from 2013 to 56.52 and scored 1.03 percentage points higher than the 55.49 percent state average.

Eighth grade writing scores improved by 1.30 percentage points in 2014 to 44.94 percent, however test scores remained 11.24 percentage points below the state average. Sixth and ninth grade scores stayed the same at 47 and 46 percent, respectfully but remained under the state averages by 9.68 and 7.6 percent, respectfully.

Writing scores for students in the third, fourth, seventh and 10th grades declined in 2014 and did not meet the state average. Scores for third grade students decreased 1.08 percentage points to 47.05 percent in 2014, 4.02 percentage points lower than the state average; fourth grade test scores decreased 4.23 percentage points to 50.95 percent, 0.76 percentage points lower than the state; seventh grade test scores decreased 1.14 percentage points to 52 percent, 8.87 percentage points lower than the state; and 10th grade writing scores decreased 2.45 to 35.47 percent, 13.09 percentage points lower than the state.



Students met or exceeded state average in math in the third, fourth and fifth grades. Fourth and fifth grade math scores improved by 0.78 and 3.51 percentage points, respectfully, to 73.02 and 67.65 percent in 2014. Fourth grade scores were 1.47 percentage points higher than the state average of 71.55 percent and fifth grade scores were 3.02 percentage points higher than the state average of 64.63 percent. Third grade test scores not only remained the same at 72 percent from 2013 but also met the state average for 2014.

Although the number of students scoring proficient or advanced remained below the state average, math scores for students in the eighth grades improved while scores for students in seventh, ninth and 10th grades remained the same. Eighth grade test scores improved 0.64 percentage points from 2013 to 40.05 percent, 12.33 percentage points below the state average. Seventh grade math scores remained at 41 percent in 2014, ninth grade scores remained at 29 percent and tenth grade scores remained at 22 percent; 13.07, 9.91 and 10.99 percentage points below the state average, respectfully.

Sixth grade math scores decreased 3.1 percentage points to 49.77 percent in 2014, 11.29 percentage points below the state average of 61.06 percent.


Improving over time

Although some of the district’s test scores dipped this year, Robertson and Superintendent Chris Fiedler are encouraged  by the fact that test scores are improving over time. Robertson said the district has made noticeable gains since 2008 while test scores from the state have remained flat since then. Robinson cited ninth grade as an example, where reading scores have increased by 15 percentage points and writing scores have increased 19 percentage points over the last six years.

Fiedler is excited to talk about the trend data which shows the district’s scores are better today than they were in 2008 in 23 out of 27 exams. He says the trend data is something to be proud of because it occurred during a time when the district’s finances have been limited, when they’ve had to cut programs, where class sizes have increased. 

“We’re awfully proud that we’re continuing to see positive trends and improving our proficiency levels,” he said, adding that the district still has work to do. “We’re not where we would like to be and we’re not going to be happy... until every student is successful and we’re certainly not there yet.” 

Chief Academic Officer Kelly Corbett said the district continues to feel positive about its movement, while they’re trying to implement multiple initiatives – one of which is the thinking classroom.

The district also saw improvement in Colorado ACT scores, which is administered to and measures the performance of every 11th grader in the state. Scores increased 0.5 percentage points in 2014, bring the district’s average to 18.8. Fiedler said it’s the highest score the district has ever had since the state started requiring 11th graders to take the Colorado ACT in 2008.

“That means, when we do the board expectations report in September, we will declare compliance for the first time ever on that particular measure,” he said. “So the board goal is that we increase half a point each year until we reach (a score of) 22 and we maintain that.” 

Fiedler will also be able to report compliance on the boards graduation requirement. The district’s graduation rate increased from 75.4 percent in 2012 to 79.2 percent in 2013. He said the graduation rate meets the board of educations goal of increasing the district’s graduation rate by 2 percent each year until it is able to reach a graduation rate of 95 percent.

The TCAP assessment, which bridged the gap between the state’s former Colorado Student Assessment Program and the new Colorado Measures of Academic Success assessment, was administered for the last time in 2014.  The new CMAS test is an online assessment that will be fully implemented this school year. CMAS assessments align with the new Colorado Academic Standards.