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Finding the Positives in Colorado’s Latest 3rd Grade Reading TCAP Results

It’s that time of year again. I get to share some news and thoughts with you about the latest release of Colorado’s 3rd grade reading test results. We’re talking the “preliminary and unofficial” results from TCAP, the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, formerly known as CSAP. As last year’s debate on HB 1238 (the Colorado READ Act) reminded us, making sure kids have proficient reading skills by this milestone year is a crucial indicator of their future learning success.

Ed News Colorado this week reports:

Colorado’s third grade TCAP reading scores remained flat in 2013 for the third year in a row, according to TCAP results released Tuesday.

Once again defying the trend and deserving a little extra kudos is Denver Public Schools, for boosting its 3rd grade reading proficiency up to 61 percent, closer to the state average. Also making progress is Westminster 50, which rebounded from a low 40 percent two years ago to 50 percent today. As the article points out, Aurora took a small hit but anticipates “a much different story next year,” while large suburban districts Jefferson County, Douglas County, and Cherry Creek followed the state’s flat trend line.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports a mixed bag of news from the Pikes Peak region. The clear bright spot is the Harrison School District — continuing ambitious reform steps to serve its 70 percent student poverty population — which has leaped the state average to 76 percent 3rd grade reading proficiency and is closing in on many of its wealthier El Paso County neighbors.

This time there’s no Wildflower Elementary “miracle.” But Harrison’s Centennial Elementary has climbed from 52 percent proficiency two years ago to 90 percent on the latest TCAP, though 9 out of every 10 students is eligible for free or reduced lunch (FRL). Want to know the results for a specific Colorado school or district? Check out Ed News’ searchable page, or dig up all the data from the state’s Department of Education.

Last year there were 11 eligible schools that registered perfect scores of 100 percent student proficiency. While nearly 100 schools didn’t have enough students taking the test to register the results, we do know of 10 out of more than 1,000 schools this year that achieved the perfect feat (listed in alphabetical order, district noted in parentheses, repeat winners from last year highlighted in bold):

  • Alta Vista Charter School (Lamar)
  • Aurora Quest K-8 (Aurora)
  • Bear Creek Elementary (Boulder Valley)
  • Challenge School (Cherry Creek): only school to reach 100 percent in each of the past three years
  • Greenwood Elementary (Cherry Creek)
  • New Emerson School (Mesa 51)
  • Parmalee Elementary (Jeffco)
  • Polaris at Ebert Elementary (Denver)
  • Sangre de Cristo Elementary (Sangre de Cristo)
  • Wilmot Elementary (Jeffco)

Interestingly, all four of the repeat winners above are district magnet programs for gifted and talented students. Most notable on the list are Sangre de Cristo and Alta Vista Charter, which serve FRL populations of 64 and 40 percent, respectively.

Nonetheless, hats off to all the schools and teachers that are adding value in getting kids ready so they can read to learn!