Colorado Measures of Academic Success, or CMAS, scores were recently released. St. Vrain Valley Schools students exceeded the statewide average.
CMAS tests are administered to students in the spring of each school year, usually two months before the end of the year.
The statewide results indicate that significant achievement gaps continue especially for English language learners and boys’ scores are improving more quickly than girls’ since the pandemic.
Statewide, students in fourth and eighth grades in 2022 had scores that were four percentage points lower in reading and writing at grade level on the test than in 2019.
However, SVVSD students scored higher than the statewide average.
“Overall, we increased our achievements on 75% of our assessments,” said Jackie Kapushion, deputy superintendent at SVVSD. “That percentage goes up to 83% when we don't include the performance of our charter schools.”
SVVSD administered 16 tests in 2022 and students outperformed the state average on all tests, Kapushion said. District students also scored at or higher than the state median average for growth on 90% of the assessments.
“Growth is really important to use because it really tells the value we are adding to each individual student’s learning experience,” Kapushion said.
Kapushion attributed the success of St. Vrain students to the teachers and a focus on curriculum. SVVSD has adopted a research-based reading program that works with students of all abilities and identifies that 1 in 5 students have dyslexic characteristics even if they are not fully diagnosed.
The district also offers advanced math courses at the elementary and middle school levels in order to better prepare students for high school advanced courses.
After learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic was identified, SVVSD extended the school day by offering afterschool tutoring and a summer program for elementary students.
Kapushion also said the district’s focus, workforce and PTech programs encourage more student engagement which further increases student learning.
“The majority of these data from this last school year are higher than most of the assessments that were administered in 2019. I think we need to recognize the focus and commitment our teachers are putting forth and their commitment to staying for longer school days, for delivering very focused instruction and also to committing to part of their summer,” Kapushion said, adding that this commitment is a big part of why students are showing growth on these tests.
In an update to the Rotary Club of Longmont, Don Haddad, SVVSD superintendent, discussed how the current education system uses standardized tests to rank schools. He said these test results are done too early in the school year to know whether or not students will leave that grade performing at grade level or not.
Kapushion said when the district looks at the i-Ready test scores — which are conducted three times a school year, including the end of the year — it sees a larger growth among students.
“It’s more of a formative assessment where CMAS tends to be more of a summative assessment,” Kapushion said.
SVVSD students also reached the highest SAT scores since 2018. It also outscored the state and national scores for PSAT9, PSAT10 and SAT.
While these tests are primarily used for college admissions — although that trend has begun to fade in recent years — the scores are a feedback tool for SVVSD in determining whether or not its high school instruction is preparing students for college, Kapushion said.
The district also uses these scores to encourage students to take advanced placement courses to better prepare for college.
“It really does open doors for students,” Kapushion said.