Across the board, Montezuma-Cortez district principals agree that more work is needed to improve students’ academic performance.
Last year’s Colorado TCAP scores were made available to the public on Thursday, Aug. 14. Scores indicate that more of the district’s ninth-graders tested proficient and advanced in reading during 2013-14 than in the previous year. Fewer freshmen also tested unsatisfactory in reading over the same time.
Sophomore scores went the other direction: Fewer 10th-graders tested proficient and advanced in reading, and more tested unsatisfactory.
Montezuma-Cortez High School Principal Jason Wayman said the TCAP scores revealed the school continues to be among the state’s struggling high schools. He said the school’s goal is to have 80 percent of all students proficient or advanced in reading. Last year, less than 30 percent of students showed “college-ready” reading levels, he said.
“The data indicate that our students’ level of growth in reading is simply not adequate for us to make the progress we need to be proficient,” he said.
This year, Wayman said an adjusted schedule would add the equivalent of 21 days of regular school, providing teachers more time to work with students.
Scores indicated that that fewer third-, fifth- and sixth-graders tested proficient and advanced in mathematics last year compared with the previous year. More students in grades three through six also tested unsatisfactory in math.
Manaugh Elementary Principal Donetta Dehart said the TCAP scores indicate that students as a group grew significantly last year, but that many students continue to struggle.
“Math and writing will be a particular area of focus for Manaugh in the 2014-15 school year,” said Dehart.
Kemper Elementary Principal Angela Galyon said the school worked diligently to prepare students for future academic success.
“Our goal is to constantly improve,” she said.
This year, Galyon said teachers had refined its system to measure student progress in reading. She added teachers would respond to students who were behind, and encourage parents to participate in the problem-solving process.
Examining the district’s writing scores, more fourth- and fifth-graders tested unsatisfactorily, and fewer of those students were proficient and advanced than in the previous year.
Mesa Elementary Principal KD Umbarger said the school’s purpose was to support all students to read, write and compute at or above grade level by the end of third grade. The school’s greatest overall area of concern is reading, and the lack of growth necessary to improve minority student performance, she said.
“The Mesa staff is determined to have a clear focus this year, which will be kids first,” said Umbarger.
Middle school improves
Reading scores for eighth- and ninth-graders improved last year: More tested proficient and advanced in writing, and fewer tested unsatisfactorily.
Cortez Middle School Principal Jamie Haukeness said the school’s TCAP scores revealed strong student academic growth in seven of nine assessed content areas. He said the greatest gains were in reading and writing, with a schoolwide increase in reading and writing of 4 and 7 percent, respectively.
This year, Haukeness said the school’s strategy for growth would center on daily staff academic enrichment periods to focus on student intervention strategies.
“We will inform students of their academic standings, and go over the TCAP results with each of them at the beginning of the school year and set academic goals,” said Haukeness. “Teachers will use data to drive instruction and review the results each week. Parents will be informed of progress and be asked to play an active role in discussing their student’s progress.”
Lewis-Arriola Elementary Principal Dan Porter said the school continued to strive for high levels of student performance. CAP results indicate that the school performed higher than all other district elementary schools.
“Lewis-Arriola has the highest percentage of growth in writing and the highest percentage of reading achievement compared to other district schools,” said Porter.
This year, Porter said the school would target reading performance improvement, which is fundamental for students’ future success.
The Journal sent emails seeking comment from each of the district’s seven school board members.
Pete Montano was the only one to reply, stating he would only refer all questions to Superintendent Alex Carter.
Crystal Ruiz-Reynolds, parent volunteer chairperson of the Re-1 District Accountability Committee, also declined to comment without first reviewing the data with other committee members.