Academy ACL’s 100, other scores best in district TCAPs

       The Academy for Advanced & Creative Learning (Academy ACL) outdistanced other Westside schools in the annual Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) tests last spring.

Academy ACL's perfect scorers in TCAP sixth-grade reading testing last spring are shown with their teaching staff in the school gym. Back row (students) - Emma Brannen, Mikasi Austin, Anna Stellick, Hunter Landers, Loren Phillips, Jonathan Hendricks, Kyle Dorr, Dylan Andrade, Eli Hickman, James Shaver. Seated - Javier Rommel-Ruiz, Logan Garzaniti, Tierra Tisby-Burke, Victoria Figueroa-Horn, Logan Cooper, EJ Mercer, Isaac Thompson, Justin Ott, Kira Fischer. Teachers at left: Sherrie Horn and Claire Olsen; at right, Christel Mayo and Daiva Cooper. Overall, grades 6 and 7 at the Westside school for gifted students had better TCAP scores than those in all other District 11 schools.
Westside Pioneer photo

       And in grades 6-7 only, it left all of District 11 in its dust.
       No scores for those grade levels for any other D-11 school came in above 90 percent proficient in any category; only five were even above 80. Meanwhile Academy ACL, a K-8 charter school for gifted students, racked up five plus-90s in grades 6-7- topped by a 100 percent in sixth-grade reading that was the only perfect score in any grade level in the district.
       The school did not have enough eighth-grade students for those results to be released by the state, according to Principal Nikki Myers.
       “Proficient” is a standardized-testing term to define students who understand the course material for their grade level. The TCAPs are intended to reveal how well schools are doing in that regard in grades 3-10.
       A no-attendance-area school with 290 students and waiting lists at all grade levels, Academy ACL had its other plus-90s in sixth-grade math (96) and writing (96), and in seventh-grade reading (90) and writing (95).
       The school also tallied a 91 percent proficiency in third-grade reading, along with above-80s in third-grade math (88); fourth-grade math (88) and reading (85); and fifth-grade math (81), reading (89) and science (83).
       The only other Westside school attaining a plus-90 in the TCAPs was Buena Vista Montessori elementary school, with a 94 in third-grade reading.
       Claire Olsen, the lead teacher for Academy ACL's Division 4 (grades 5-6), gave several reasons for her students' TCAP successes. One she emphasized was a flexible approach in which teachers coordinate continually to provide individualized challenges for the fastest as well as slowest learners. As an example, she noted that this involved - in the middle of a semester - setting aside a group of boys who'd been struggling so as to organize ways to “get them excited about reading.”
       For the sixth-graders as a whole, last year was their first exposure to classic literature, including such works as “Treasure Island,” “Gulliver's Travels” and “Peter Pan.”
       “At the beginning they were in shock,” Olsen said. “They were used to whipping through books [of less complexity and smaller vocabulary]. Even 'Harry Potter' isn't written at the level of the classics.”
       Unlike traditional public schools, which follow curricula geared to standardized testing, Olsen said Academy ACL takes the approach that, “if you're doing your job teaching, the child should do well on the test.” As for the standards, “we shoot to go above them.”
       The other Westside schools with scores in the plus-80s last spring were:
       - Bristol Elementary, fifth-grade math (85 percent) and reading (84).
       - Howbert Elementary, fourth-grade reading (80).
       - Midland Elementary, third-grade math (85) and fourth-grade math (82).
       - Holmes Middle, sixth-grade reading (85) and seventh-grade reading (81).
       - Coronado High, 10th-grade reading (82).

Westside Pioneer article