New PARCC student assessment scores appear low, but Steamboat still outranks state |

New PARCC student assessment scores appear low, but Steamboat still outranks state

Teresa Ristow

— Don’t read too much into new Colorado Measures of Academic Success scores released Friday that suggest as many as half of Steamboat students not meeting grade level standards — the test is new and the district still ranks well above state averages.

The new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — or PARCC — were designed to show how students are stacking up against more rigorous academic standards, so it’s expected that the number of students meeting the expectations would be lower than on previous assessments with lower standards.

PARCC tested students last spring in English language arts and math to assess grade level knowledge and in the case of math, sometimes knowledge of a particular class.

Steamboat’s scores, along with Colorado’s, seem low. But the scores themselves should be considered alongside participation rates, state averages and, in some cases, consideration of which students are taking which tests, according to Marty Lamansky, district director of teaching and learning for the Steamboat Springs School District.

“I would tell people, don’t even try to draw any conclusions,” Lamansky said about the district’s overall scores.

In English language arts, scores ranged from 36 percent of eleventh-graders to as much as 72 percent of seventh-graders who met or exceeded grade level expectations.

The score for eleventh-graders is four percentage points lower that the state average, but only 51 of 177 eleventh-grade students sat for the test — about 29 percent. Statewide, 50 percent of eleventh-graders received scores.

In math, scores range from a low of 12 percent of eighth-graders and a high of 65 percent of integrated math III students scoring at or higher than expectations.

The scores are complicated, because eighth-grade students could be taking one of at least three math assessments based on the level of class they are taking. Eighth-grade math scores are likely low, because eighth-grade students with a good knowledge base in math would be in a higher-level math course and take the corresponding assessment. The same is true for ninth- through eleventh-graders who are divided between classes, and therefore tests, based on ability.

Participation rates also complicate the results. Overall, only 82 percent of Colorado students meant to take the test sat for it, an all-time low for any standardized test in Colorado.

In Steamboat, participation rates decreased in higher grades and ranged from a high of 96.8 percent of third-graders to as low as 28.9 percent of eleventh-graders in English and 39.1 percent of students in integrated math III.

For district administration, principals and teachers, the scores are a point of data to look at, but don’t represent any trends or growth, because the test is new and not comparable to old tests.

“We only have one year of data, so we can’t determine growth,” Lamansky said. “This is one point of data in a body of evidence.”

Lamansky said if parents do see a low score that concerns them, it could still be a good opportunity to discuss progress with teachers to make sure students are up to speed in class.

The scores will be presented to the Board of Education on Monday, and parents should receive individual student scores in the mail in the coming week.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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