Howbert, Holmes high on state list
Both earn Irwin award for 2008 CSAP scores

       Two of the top academic schools in Colorado are on the Westside.

Christmas musical programs at two Westside schools helped lead up to the semester break (Dec. 20 to Jan. 6). ABOVE: Howbert Elementary (grades K-2) perform “The Incredible Reindeer” at the Coronado High auditorium Dec. 16. BELOW: Buena Vista Elementary (grades 1-3) perform “The Elves Impersonator” at the school Dec. 11.
Westside Pioneer photos

       In rankings based on last spring's Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) testing, Howbert Elementary was 30th in the state among 1,032 elementary schools while Holmes Middle School was 42nd among 480 middle schools.
       The results also qualified both for the John Irwin School of Excellence honor that goes to schools whose scores are among the top 8 percent in Colorado. Both also are the only two Westside schools to merit Excellent ratings for academic performance - they've done so since 2006 - in what the Colorado Department of Education calls the Student Activity Report (SAR).
       In another positive turn for Westside public schools, Pike Elementary's significantly improved CSAP scores lifted its academic rating from Average - where it had been for several years - to High. The school joined Coronado High, West Middle and Jackson Elementary (all repeaters) at that level.
       Along with Pike, Howbert and Holmes also ranked High in terms of student improvement.
       Other Westside schools stayed in the Average category, with no significant improvement in 2008, according to the SAR analysis.
       Howbert Principal David Morris expressed delight at the Irwin award, which will let the school at 1023 N. 31st St. display a large banner announcing the fact. “It's really nice to be recognized,” he said. “Now we would just like to continue to improve so we can earn this again next year. We're not going to sit on our laurels and say we made it. This is just the beginning.”
       He said the next goal is equaling Chipeta Elementary (located in the Rockrimmon area), which made eighth best in the state. “They're always highly ranked,” Morris said. “That's our goal. That's the one we compare to.”
       Holmes, 2455 Mesa Road, is an example of another way that the SAR is used by educators. The analysis lets schools see how the same students fared in comparison with their scores the year before. So, although Holmes's overall CSAP scores were down slightly from '07, the students who had taken the test the year before actually did better - enough for Holmes to rate a High in student academic growth, Principal Rob Utter explained. “We're thrilled about because it shows we're helping kids grow,” he said.
       Like Howbert, Holmes was behind only one other public school in the Pikes Peak region. Repeating as a John Irwin school is “really some great news,” Utter said.
       Pike Elementary, 2510 N. Chestnut St., has already been honored this fall for its CSAP scores, which were the highest in the state for a designated Title 1 (lower income) school. “We feel good about it because we're doing our job,” Principal Manuel Ramsey said. “The staff has high morale and feels good about the work they're doing.”
       SAR statistics demonstrate the improvement in Pike student performance. When “economically disadvanged” students are compared separately between 2007 and 2008, the number who scored proficient or advanced on the CSAPS went from 48 to 70 percent in math, 41 to 59 percent in writing and 52 to 80 percent in reading.
       And, Ramsey predicted, the school may be getting better. Based on other student testing during the current school year, “we should continue that trend” on the next CSAPs, he said. “We don't want it be one time. We want it to happen every year.”

Westside Pioneer article