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Testing Analysis: Some Students Falling Behind

More than 100,000 public school students are not on pace to achieve proficiency in math and writing over the next three years, or by the time they reach 10th grade, an I-News Network analysis of state testing data shows.

The I-News analysis found:

  • Of the public school students who fell below state standards in math, 137,869 of them, or 87.9 percent, aren’t advancing fast enough to reach proficiency in three years or by the 10th grade. Last year it was 86.5 percent.
  • Among students not meeting state standards in writing, three quarters of them, or 125,250 students, are not on pace to achieve proficiency. That is a jump from 67.5 percent last year.
  • Reading was the only improvement. Of students not scoring proficient or better in reading, 80,344 of them, or 67.3 percent, were not on track to meet state standards. That is down from 71 percent last year.

In some subjects and grade levels, such as high school math, a very low percentage of students are on pace to catch up, said Bill Bonk, longitudinal growth consultant for the Colorado Department of Education.
State officials said they hope more students will catch up in coming years as districts work more closely with each other to share teaching techniques that work and embrace more detailed analysis of test scores to pinpoint why students fall behind.

The I-News analysis showed some districts did better than others in reducing the percent of deficient students not catching up.

“Some districts are aware of the kidsthat are not making progress and they are progress monitoring these kidsover the course of the year. Those are the systems that are showing progress in growth,” said Colorado Department of Education deputy commissioner Keith Owen.

In reading, the Harrison, Colorado Springs 11, and Academy 20 districts in El Paso County saw more students catching up, raising their levels by between seven and 11 percentage points. The Pueblo City and Littleton districts also had sharp drops.

The Durango school district saw a jump of six percentage points to almost 70 percent of students not on tract to achieve state reading standards. In Aspen, the increase was four percentage points, to 45 percent.

Almost all the state’s largest districts saw an increase in the percent of students not on pace to catch up in writing.  The exceptions were the Littleton and Westminster districts.

In math, Boulder Valley, Aspen and Steamboat Springs lowered the percentage of students not catching up, while the rate rose in the Poudre, Durango and Greeley districts.

The I-News Network is a nonprofit newsroom collaborating with Colorado news organizations to cover important issues. Learn more at iNewsNetwork.org

I-News is the public service journalism arm of Rocky Mountain PBS and works in collaboration with news media throughout Colorado.
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