CSAP 3rd-grade reading scores up for Jackson, BV, Whittier

       Three Westside public elementary schools showed improvement in the recently released Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) third-grade reading test scores.
       Jackson jumped from 61 percent of its students with proficient or advanced reading skills a year ago to 83 percent this spring, while Buena Vista improved from 68 to 77 percent. Whittier had too few third-graders taking the test to have a schoolwide score in 2003, but its score of 70 percent this year is noticeably better than its 52 percent in 2002.
       The tests look at how well students read and comprehend the material. This also involves writing. For example, as Whittier Ele- mentary Principal Marlys Berg explained, if a student is asked to describe the main character of a story, a proficient response would involve more information than just “he was nice.”
       At Jackson, Principal Anne Dancy praised two teachers in particular - Ellen Malsam and Kate Shuck. “Our teachers are incredibly strong,” Dancy said. “That's the number one reason. They've had the same kids for two years (second- and third- graders), and they've been tutoring any kids that they felt needed extra help.”
       She added that there has been “excellent parent support.”
       Buena Vista Principal Alan Rasmussen also credited tutoring - during as well as after school - for making a difference. He gave kudos to third-grade teacher Caroline Neuharth and to tutor Margie Taylor for their efforts.
       Berg said her teachers “worked very hard on what we thought were weaknesses,” and said that instead of singling out any one teacher her “whole staff” deserves thanks. At the same time, however, “there are still some areas of concern,” she said. “We're looking at our data and deciding what to work on.”
       All public-school grade levels took the annual CSAP tests in March. Scores for all grades - including reading as well as math and other subjects - are to be released this summer.

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