CSAP impact for West School

       West Elementary will need a “priority improvement plan” under a new state approach to the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) testing, according to a state assignment announced this week.
       West Principal Terry Martinez is ready to comply, but he believes that the state concern - low CSAP math scores in grades 3-5 - is already being addressed.
       “We started working on it last January,” he said, after reviewing student data from testing in the first semester of the 2009-10 school year that had indicated comprehension problems. But with the CSAPs occurring in February and March 2010, that didn't leave time for the school's changes to have much effect, he said. He predicted improvement will be seen on the 2011 CSAPs.
       The main concern, according to the principal and school math coach Kathy Carpenter, was training the teachers in giving students a “bedrock understanding of numbers,” as Carpenter phrased it. This in turn should mean “stronger test scores,” said the math coach, whose two-year position was created with federal stimulus funds.
       In addition, Martinez said, the school is working with individual students (through a process called “interventions”) to “get them up to speed.”
       West Elementary was created last year in part of the West Middle School building. It took in students chiefly from Washington and Whittier elementaries (both of which closed) and Buena Vista Elementary (which had gone to an all-Montessori program, no longer teaching “traditional” students).
       The priority improvement plan is one of four possible plan types that the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) can assign to a school, based on whether it “exceeds,” “meets,” is “approaching” or “does not meet” expectations for academic achievement, academic growth, academic growth gaps and (at the high school level) “post-secondary and workforce readiness,” according to the CDE.
       For schools meeting or exceeding, the state wants only a “performance plan.” For those not doing as well - depending on the extent to which that is occurring - there are three possible types: an “improvement plan,” a “priority improvement plan” and a “turnaround” plan.
       CSAP tests are taken annually by grades 3-10. The new state approach to the test results stemmed from state legislation that is taking effect this school year, Martinez said.
       Schools assigned to priority improvement or turnaround plans, “will require some level of state support or oversight,” a CDE press release states, but does not elaborate how this will occur.
       “They haven't defined what they want us to do,” Martinez said. “We submitted our plan at the end of September. We haven't heard anymore, but we think what we're doing fits in well.”
       For the rest of the Westside, improvement plans are recommended for Bristol, Buena Vista and Jackson elementaries; West Middle; and the Bijou School (alternative high school). Performance plans are recommended for Coronado High, Holmes Middle and Howbert and Midland Elementary.

Westside Pioneer article