Improvement at high school, elementary school in second year of turnaround effort – Middle school scores mixed; strong reading gains, math scores down
Students at Pueblo’s Central High School made strong academic gains in the wake of a bold joint school turnaround effort by the Pueblo City School District and Global Partnership Schools, according to new test results released Wednesday by the state. Elementary school students under the GPS partnership also made strong gains.
The gains at both Central High and Spann Elementary beat the state average academic improvement in every subject area. The school district closed Spann at the end of the school year.
Results at the four middle schools in the turnaround partnership were mixed, with schools showing gains in reading but declines in math and writing. But two of the four GPS partner middle schools beat the overall state average for improvement, and five of the six GPS partner schools in Pueblo showed progress in at least one academic area, with the strongest gains noted in reading.
The scores are from the 2011-12 administration of the state test, known as the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, or TCAP.
After two years of the turnaround partnership, district and GPS officials said Central High School is well on its way to becoming a strong high school. Central High, which had been troubled by academic problems for years before the Pueblo district launched its aggressive improvement effort with GPS, saw improvements in the percentage of students scored at proficient or advanced this past year in all four academic areas tested by the TCAP – reading, mathematics, writing and science. The Central High gains in reading, for example, were more than four times better than the state average gain.
Central High improvement beats Colorado average
Improvement in percent of students scoring proficient or advanced, from 2010-11 to 2011-12 school year
|Reading||Up 2 points||Up 8.5 points|
|Math||No gain||Up 1.5 points|
|Writing||Down .5 points||Up 5 points|
|Science||Up 2 points||Up 4 points|
Two years ago, Central High trailed the district average in reading by 15.5 points, but now has cut that gap by more than half, down to 6.5 points. Writing scores at Central High zoomed up 5 points this year while the state average writing scores were declining.
“Our partnership with the great people at Central High and the Pueblo City Schools clearly is succeeding,” said Dr. Manny Rivera, chief executive officer of Global Partnership Schools, a nationally recognized firm that works with schools and policy makers to create learning communities to accelerate student progress, improve the instructional capacity of all educators, and create educational environments that prepare all students to succeed in the global economy and society. “We’ve worked with our partners at Pueblo City Schools to improve and align the curriculum, to train teachers to improve results in the classroom, and to improve the learning atmosphere at the schools. Together we are succeeding in making progress at Central High because all of us – the educators and students and their families – believe in the power and will of every student to learn. The teachers and staff and students at Central High deserve enormous credit for believing in themselves and working hard to shake off too many years of underperformance at the school and to start crafting a better future for kids. There is a lot of work left to do, especially in math performance, but everyone is committed to getting it done.”
The biggest job ahead in at Central High, as is the case at many Pueblo district schools, is in math achievement. Only 9 percent of Central High students met the standard in math, far too low, officials said. The state average achievement in math also is lower than in other subjects, with 35 percent of Colorado students scoring at proficient or advanced. The science scores are also still too low at Central, with 22 percent of students meeting the standard.
Just as it did with its one high school, the GPS partnership with Pueblo City Schools also produced strong gains at Spann Elementary. Spann students improved across the board, with an improvement in reading performance of nearly six times the Pueblo district average for elementary schools. Reading performance soared 11.6 percentage points at Spann, compared to a 2 point improvement across the rest of Pueblo City Schools and just a 1 point improvement statewide.
Of the four middle schools partnering with GPS, two – Risley and Pitts – beat the state average for total average improvement, and another middle school bested the state average improvement in two subjects. Three of the four middle schools saw academic gains in some areas. But GPS and district officials said they were not satisfied in math and writing performance, which dropped at the middle schools as it did statewide.