While Colorado’s overall third-grade reading scores declined slightly this year, all Grand county elementary schools were above average, according to results released by the Colorado Department of Education on Tuesday, May 7.
The state’s Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) showed 72 percent of third-graders had proficient or advanced reading skills.
Third-grade reading proficiency is recognized as a crucial indicator of a child’s future reading proficiency.
Both elementary schools in East Grand School District showed improvement from last year, with Fraser Valley Elementary showing 95 percent of third-graders were at a proficient or advanced reading level, up from 92 percent last year.
This puts Fraser Valley in the top 32 schools in the state for third-grade reading scores.
During a presentation at a board of education meeting May 6, Principal James Chamberlin attributed his school’s success to a district-wide core literacy program called Reading Street and support services that identify students with reading difficulties early.
“It is third grade, but we look at preschool all the way up through the third grade,” Chamberlin said. “This is a result of the efforts of all of the staff involved in that.”
Granby Elementary scores improved this year by 2 percent. Seventy-five percent of third graders showed proficient or advanced reading scores.
Granby Elementary Principal Jane Harmon said during the meeting that her school was using Reading Street and Title One programming to keep reading skills on an upward trend. Harmon also announced that the school would consider changing its scheduling to allow for a 90-minute reading period for all grade levels.
“A lot of the workshops that (West Grand Middle School Principal) Kelly Martin and I have been going to about improving our literacy scores, that’s one of the top recommendations, is to really refine your master schedule to eliminate interruptions to reading instruction,” Harmon said.
West Grand Elementary third-grade TCAP scores fell by six percent this year, with 84 percent of students showing proficient or advanced reading skills.
West Grand Superintendent and Elementary School Principal Terry Vanderpan did not return phone calls and emails on Wednesday and did not meet with a reporter for this story on Thursday.
Administrators address scores
TCAP third-grade reading scores are returned before the end of the year so that schools can work on improving the reading proficiency of students who didn’t score as high.
“The students who didn’t make proficiency from Fraser Valley, we’re going to go back and look at other assessments and say, ‘does this student need a READ plan? Do they need to be retained in third grade? Will they be successful in fourth grade?,’” Chamberlin said. “So we have some tough conversations coming about the students that didn’t make it.”
Harmon said looking at pre-reading skills, or skills prior to entering school, was a big priority in addressing shortfalls this year. Harmon said 55 percent of this years third graders came into kindergarten with below grade-level reading skills.
“We really want to work with parents and programming even prior to that so that students walk through the door ready to read,”she said.
Preparing for new format
Administrators are currently preparing for a new computer-based K-12 assessment in math, English, language arts and literacy.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test will present students with a format that’s much different than they’re used to.
“We expect it to be a difficult process for our students to transition to that format and we expect that the tests will be much more rigorous next year,” Harmon said.
Chamberlin said students at Fraser Elementary will be working more with computers and laptops, to make sure they have the “access skills” to succeed with the new format.
“We will be working really hard to make sure that our students have the ability to compose their answers using a keyboard and navigate any number of tools that are a part of the test,” he said.
Harmon said that Granby Elementary is running a pilot of a program called i-Ready, an online-based learning platform.
Harmon said she hopes that this program can be implemented to help students deal with the new PARCC format.
Reporter Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610