District’s third grade has more proficient readers than state average

86 percent test at proficient or advanced level

Third grade students in Crested Butte, Gunnison and Marble are beating the state average for reading proficiency by 13 percent, with more than eight out of 10 kids testing at the proficient and advanced level.



“The district is really happy about these results,” says district director of curriculum and assessment Dr. Chris Purkiss. “Our teachers have implemented a new reading program recently and have worked very hard at making sure that they intervene early when students aren’t on track for success.”
After reviewing the results of the latest round of Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) tests, the Colorado Department of Education said Friday, May 1, 73 percent of the state’s third graders tested as at least proficient in reading.
Eighty-five percent of students from Gunnison Elementary, 87 percent of students at the Crested Butte Community School and 100 percent of the students in Marble tested at that level.
According to Purkiss, the reading intervention program that was started in the district two years ago is beginning to bear fruit. In just the last year, the number of students to test at the highest level district-wide has gone up to 86 percent from 81 percent and students at the Gunnison Elementary School have improved by 11 percent.
Based on the results, teachers and sometimes school administrators will intervene in a child’s education with added attention or time to make sure that the necessary skills are being learned if they notice a drop in an individual’s test scores.
“Principals and teachers are working diligently to use data to inform their instructional decision making. I believe that these great results in third grade reading are showing that this approach works,” says superintendent Jon Nelson.
According to Purkiss, the district will be making plans to help those students who did not attain proficiency by providing extra assistance in the upcoming school year to make sure that these students learn to become successful readers.
At CBCS, principal Stephanie Niemi says she was happy not to see any of the 38 students at her school test as unsatisfactory, but that doesn’t mean she’s satisfied.
“Of course we’d like to see 100 percent of our students test as proficient, but we’re seeing improvement,” she says. “It’s important for teachers to know how students are doing at that age. If you don’t catch up by third grade then you might not catch up and we have to look at the whole child. Reading is an integral skill to life.”
But she is happy to consistently see more than 80 percent of students at CBCS testing as proficient. Although the percentage of students testing as proficient usually drops as they move up through the grades, she says testing well now in reading often means a student will be successful in later grades.
“I think we’re as steady as can be as far as the results go,” she said. “Year after year there isn’t a whole lot of change,” says Niemi.
But Niemi pointed out that this class of third graders is smaller than average, which means that every student’s grade has a greater impact, about 3 percent, on the school’s overall score.
Students in third grade take the reading portion of the CSAP earlier than other parts so the results can be used to improve instruction in the upcoming year.
A similar effort was started across the district last year to improve the CSAP math scores and administrators are hoping that it has the same success as the reading program has had over the last two years.
“I’m hoping the two programs see the same success, but I can’t make a prediction,” said Niemi. “What I do know is that the math interventionist is working his tail off.”
Any questions or concerns about the CSAP scores or future testing, contact the building principal or Dr. Purkiss in the district office at 641-7790.

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