They’re celebrating at Windsor High School.
The ninth- and 10th-grade students who took the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program tests in the spring saw double-digit gains in five of its seven testing categories compared with 2012. The high school scored above the state average in all seven testing categories.
“We are very, very excited,” WHS principal Michelle Scallon said. “Our kids could always do it. It is the best gift we could have gotten to start the new school year. It shows what a quality staff we have. Our teachers are amazing. They work hard, and it’s nice to see their hard work pay off.”
The WHS staff was treated to a cake by the district administration Wednesday, and a large banner was placed above the entrance of the school saying, “Together We Made A Difference! WHS TCAP 2013.”
Overall, it was also a banner day for staff and students in the Windsor-Severance Re-4 District after the Colorado Department of Education released the TCAP results Wednesday. The Re-4 students scored above the state average in 27 of the 27 areas on the TCAP tests.
Windsor-Severance Re-4 and Eaton Re-2 were the only two school districts in Weld County to score above the state average in every grade level and content area.
Third- through 10th-grade students scored proficient or advanced in all 27 tests in science, math, reading and writing. In 2012, the students scored proficient or advanced in 23 of 27 tests. In 2011, the students scored proficient or advanced in all 27 areas of the tests. In 2010, the district’s students scored above the state average on 26 of 27 tests.
Amy Heinsma, district assessment coordinator, said the district is proud of the students and their success overall on the TCAP tests.
“The Re-4 district leadership team met to discuss initial results, share successes and review areas we would like to improve,” Heinsma said. “Each school will be meeting with teachers during the teacher work days to set goals and update school improvement plans. All schools continue to make gains in different areas and refocus on areas that still need improvement. Windsor High School had some amazing gains and had the highest scores we have seen in six years in most subject areas and grade levels.”
Re-4 superintendent Karen Trusler was pleased with the results, especially at the high school.
“Congratulations especially go to our students at Windsor High School for the dramatic increases in their test results,” Trusler said. “Their scores reflect their efforts, as well as Windsor High School’s administration and staff efforts.”
Scallon said the high school did some things differently this year.
“We are putting the TCAP scores on the kids’ transcripts,” Scallon said. “It gives them that accountability, and it’s kind of a motivation for the students to make that personal connection.”
Scallon said the teachers did some pre-planning by letting students know that a problem in the classroom may look one way, but another way on the TCAP tests.
“We also had the teachers post the standards in their classrooms, and they talked about the standards daily with their students,” Scallon said. “We also had learning objectives related to the TCAP tests. There were a lot of proactive things that our staff did this year.”
An example of the gains at WHS could be seen in ninth-grade reading (81 percent at or above proficiency in 2013 vs. 67 percent in 2012) and ninth-grade writing (69 percent in 2013 vs. 54 percent in 2012). In 10th-grade science, the students scored 61 percent at or proficient compared with the state average of 51 percent.
Scallon said this year’s results won’t be a one-year wonder.
“We’re just going to continue to do the hard work and create awareness. The teachers are doing an excellent job,” Scallon said. “We are doing a lot of work with data this year. We’re working with the data divas from the district office. We have a new team called our SHIFT team, to shift the data, to shift the scores. We have professional learning communities. Each department looks at their data. We’re very excited for this coming year.”
Trusler said Scallon’s high visibility as a first-year principal at the high school also made an impact.
“Mrs. Scallon is an instructional leader who demonstrates this quality through her visibility and involvement in all areas at the school,” Trusler said. “As a new principal, this was her emphasis in leading the Wizards through her own active involvement, getting to know everyone and everything that encompasses Windsor High School. She then was able to better support student and teacher needs. Staff members were focused on standards and critical thinking skills, which in turn helped with higher levels of achievement. Parent involvement, of course, makes an impact and their participation in their students’ education helps to increase achievement. These students certainly succeeded with everyone’s focus and involvement.”
Other notable scores in the district included Mountain View’s and Windsor Charter Academy’s third-graders in math (90 percent), WCA’s 97 percent in 2013 vs. 80 percent in 2012 in eighth-grade reading, and WCA’s 89 percent in eighth-grade writing compared to 70 percent last year. Throughout the district, the third-grade scores compared to the state in reading (86 vs. 73), writing (67 vs. 51) and math (87 vs. 72) showed double-digit differences.
Despite the positive results, Trusler said there is always work to do to grow as a district.
“Our latest TCAP results indicate that overall our students continue to make progress,” Trusler said. “We have areas of growth as a district, and so we are all working on how to best meet the achievement needs of every single student. For some schools, the concentration may be in the area of writing, while other schools may be concentrating in the area of mathematics.”
Previously called CSAP — Colorado Student Assessment Program — the TCAP test has been designed to measure standards that are common between the old state standards, originally adopted in 1993, and the new state standards which were updated in 2009. The new standards were revised to include the 21st-century skills of innovation, critical thinking and reasoning, information literacy, self-direction and collaboration. The skills were woven into each content area of the new Colorado Academic Standards. The statewide assessment is given to students who are in third through 10th grades. Reading, writing and math are tested for each of those grades, while students in fifth, eighth and 10th grades are also tested in science.
Heinsma said the district will continue to focus on writing, as well as math. The district adopted a new kindergarten through fifth-grade math curriculum, which will be taught to K-2 students in 2013-14 and 3-5 in 2014-15.
“I think the new curriculum will continue to help with math scores across the district,” Heinsma said. “High school math is a little bit of a different animal. We’re trying to get high school kiddos ready when they enter high school, and making sure we do what we need to do from K-8, as well.”