Significant academic gains lead to "performance" rating

Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 9:41am

District posts largest math growth among state's 10 largest school districts

The recent state release of preliminary performance ratings for schools and districts demonstrates strong academic gains for Adams 12 Five Star Schools. For the first time since the state began giving school and district accountability ratings in 2010, the Five Star District has been accredited as a Performance District. 

“This demonstrates that when you give high-caliber teachers and school administrators the tools and resources they need, and then let them make the best decisions for their students, great things happen,” Superintendent Chris Gdowski said. 

There are three key performance indicators that are combined to arrive at an overall evaluation of a school’s or district’s performance. Those measures of educational success include: academic achievement (how well students are doing mastering standards), academic growth (how much academic progress a student is making from year-to-year compared to their peers with similar achievement results), and postsecondary and workforce readiness.

When arriving at the overall evaluation of a school or district, the state gives more emphasis to academic growth than the other indicators.

Five Star students learning at a faster pace than their peers from across the state

The recent release of academic growth results in English language arts and math demonstrate students in Adams 12 Five Star Schools are learning at a faster pace than their peers from across the state.

The state’s median growth percentile for any grade overall is about 50. Schools and districts with a percentile score higher than 50 mean students are learning at a faster rate than their academic peers across the state, while a score below 50 means they’re learning more slowly than their academic peers.

For 2016, growth data for Adams 12 Five Star Schools meets or exceeds that of the state in 56 of the 58 measured areas.

“This data is evidence that we are moving in a positive direction; making strides toward the goal that all students, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, have equal opportunity to achieve at high levels and be college and career ready,” Gdowski said.

Here are some of the highlights from the district’s growth report:

  • District math growth percentile is 55, the highest among the ten largest school districts in the state
  • District math growth percentiles were highest in fourth and sixth grades, 59 and 58 respectively
  • In math, our Hispanic students outpaced their peers from across the state with a growth percentile of 51 compared to the state’s 46
  • Our students learned English language arts at a faster rate than their peers from across the state
  • In English language arts, our Black students outpaced their peers from across the state with a growth percentile of 51 compared to the state’s 48  

“The collaboration between the district team, teachers and principals has created a common understanding of our curriculum and has allowed teachers the opportunity to learn about the craft of teaching as close as possible to their daily work with students,” said Tracy Dorland, chief academic officer. “We have found balance in being a focused system, while also respecting school-level flexibility. Our schools zero in on the curriculum, they focus on the standards that students need to learn and they look regularly at student work to monitor progress.” 

Schools rise to the occasion

Based on their academic results, schools are assigned one of four ratings: turnaround, priority improvement, improvement and performance. A record seven schools in the Five Star District moved out of the priority improvement rating. Additionally, no Five Star School moved into the priority improvement category and the district does not have any schools in turnaround status.

Congratulations to the 15 schools that moved into a higher performance category as a result of their academic gains:

  • Coronado Hills Elementary (Priority Improvement to Improvement)
  • North Star Elementary (Priority Improvement to Improvement)
  • Riverdale Elementary (Priority Improvement to Performance)
  • Stukey Elementary (Priority Improvement to Performance)
  • The International School at Thornton Middle (Priority Improvement to Performance)
  • Thornton Elementary (Priority Improvement to Performance)
  • Centennial Elementary (Improvement to Performance)
  • Cherry Drive Elementary (Improvement to Performance)
  • Hillcrest Elementary (Improvement to Performance)
  • North Mor Elementary (Improvement to Performance)
  • Northglenn High (Improvement to Performance)
  • Silver Hills Middle (Improvement to Performance)
  • The Studio School (Improvement to Performance)
  • Vantage Point High School (Priority Improvement to Performance)
  • Westview Elementary (Improvement to Performance)

“We want all students to be equipped with the tools to navigate and thrive in our rapidly changing world,” Dorland said. “Often this is most challenging in our highest need schools.  Thanks to the hard work of principals, teachers and students in these schools; a strong focus on curriculum and resources; and our fortunate partnership with the CDE Turnaround and Priority Improvement Office, we have made tremendous gains in closing the achievement gap in Adams 12 Five Star Schools.”