Steamboat schools rank No. 7 in state testing | SteamboatToday.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Steamboat schools rank No. 7 in state testing

Superintendent says there is more work to do as some student populations didn't perform as well as the district at large

A student walks toward the entrance of Strawberry Park Elementary School in Steamboat Springs on Aug. 23, 2022. The three best teachers in the 2022 Best of the Boat all hail from Strawberry Park.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

State standardized testing scores show the Steamboat Springs School District is the seventh-highest performing district in Colorado, though district leaders say there is still room for improvement.

The scores — the first time a complete set of achievement data has been collected since 2019 because of the pandemic — mean Steamboat is one of only 11 districts out of 184 in the state that are “accredited with distinction.”

“It is a celebration, being in the top 10 in the state,” said Superintendent Celine Wicks, following a presentation of testing results to the Board of Education on Monday, Sept. 12. “But the realization is that we still have a lot of work to do.”



There are a few different tests that students in Steamboat take. Colorado Measures of Academic Success assessment, known as CMAS, tests students in both math and English language arts and is taken by third- through eighth-grade students. High school students take either the PSAT or the SAT depending on grade level.

When looking at the CMAS testing, every Steamboat grade level tested in math and English had a higher percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards than the state average by at least 12 points, though some grade levels exceeded their peers by much more.



For eighth grade, the percentage of students that met or exceeded standards in both math and English was 39 points higher in Steamboat than in Colorado at large. In English, 83% of eighth graders met or exceeded state standards, where in math it was 71% of students. The state average of students meeting or exceeding standards for eighth grade was 44% and 32%, respectively.

When comparing the district to itself, the percentage of students meeting grade level was higher than pre-pandemic numbers in some grades and lower in others. Still, the percentage of students meeting grade level compared to last year increased for students that took various tests.

For example, 62% of third graders met or exceeded grade level in English last year. A year later, those students are in fourth grade and 65% met or exceeded English standards.

“That’s the way I like to look at the data because otherwise you’re looking at different sets of students,” said Jay Hamric, the district’s director of teaching and learning.


Get the top stories in your inbox every morning. Sign up here: steamboatpilot.com/newsletter

At Steamboat Springs High School, freshman and sophomores take the PSAT and juniors take the SAT. Each grade level outperformed their peers across the state. The scores were close — slightly above in some cases and slightly below in others — to how Steamboat students performed in 2021 and 2019 on these tests.

PSAT and SAT testing scores in the Steamboat Springs School District and Colorado as a whole.
Steamboat Springs School District/Courtesy image

“(Steamboat’s scores) are significantly above where the state is,” Hamric said. “We do see that our scores weren’t where they were prior to COVID so there’s a lot of conversation at our high school and in (professional learning communities) on how we can get that trajectory back forward.”

While Steamboat’s scores are high, generally, specific populations of students are not doing as well.

While overall students in Steamboat are high performing, some special populations are not meeting or exceeding standards at the same level as the district as a whole, according to a breakdown of Colorado Measures of Academic Success testing. On this graphic, GT refers to gifted and talented students and IEP refers to students with an individualized education plan. Free and reduced refers to students who signed up to received free and reduced lunch, though this data is less reliable this year, as all students were eligible for free lunch because of COVID and many parents opted not to submit the additional waiver.
Steamboat Springs School District/Courtesy image

Across the district, 69% of students met or exceeded standards on the English CMAS test. For Hispanic or Latino students the number was 38% and for Black or African students it was 46%.

In math, 52% of students across the district met or exceeded standards on CMAS, where for Hispanic or Latino students that number was 17% and for Black or African students it was 18%. A similar trend can be seen in the high school scores.

“You can see that obviously there are some big achievement gaps,” Hamric said. “This is the reason why I think our strategic plan is so important and the reason why we are bringing in more supports and are analyzing the supports that we are providing to these groups.”

The district also looks at student growth as an important metric. Growth is captured through iReady testing in elementary school, MAPS testing in middle school and the PSAT and SAT in high school. CMAS testing cannot glean insight on growth this year because of the irregularity of testing since 2020.

At the elementary level, 70% of students met growth metrics in English and 69% in math. For middle school, 64% met metrics in English and 68% in math.

High school growth scores are tallied differently, with median growth in the state being set at 50%. Steamboat scores were slightly above the average growth percentile in both math and English on the PSAT and slightly below in both on the SAT.

Anne Barbier, the district’s School Improvement Coordinator, said the lack of growth on PSAT and SAT testing was seen in other high performing districts like Aspen and Telluride as well. Barbier said she was planning to meet with representatives from College Board, the entity that runs PSAT and SAT testing, next week to further explore these scores.

After seeing these growth scores, Hamric said he, Barbier and Wicks discussed amending the districts strategic plan. It had a goal of getting 80% of students to meet growth metrics by the end of the school year. Hamric said the goal is now 75% by the end of this school year and 80% by June 2024.

While some yearly goals have changed, the five-year goal has not, Hamric said. “That (goal) was set before we had our most current data,” Hamric said. “We talked and we said this would probably be a more realistic for us to set our target at 75%.”


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.