Better plan for West after higher CSAP scores

       West Elementary is no longer on the state's list of schools that need to submit a “priority improvement plan.”
       Principal Terry Martinez summed it up: “We improved, so we're off that [list].”

In a scene from last February's second annual school carnival, students try out the climbing wall in the gym that West Elementary shares with West Middle School. West was created in 2009-10 to take in "traditional" students from Buena Vista and most of those from the former Whittier and Washington schools.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The concern by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) arose based on the school's spring 2010 Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) low test scores, particularly in math. This was during the school's first year (starting in 2009-2010 with an attendance area that combined most of the old Washington, Whittier and Buena Vista school attendance areas). West answered this concern in the spring 2011 CSAPs with scores that “went up tremendously,” Martinez said. “But we still have lots of room to grow, so I don't want to celebrate too much.”
       Under the Accountability Act of 2009, CDE assigned schools (in November 2010) a specific type of plan based on their CSAP scores. For schools meeting established academic expectations, the state expected only a “performance plan.” Those not doing as well - depending on the extent to which that was occurring - had to prepare an “improvement plan,” a “priority improvement plan” or a “turnaround” plan. The latter can lead to a school eventually closing. The goal is to develop students who “will exit Colorado's K-12 schools ready for postsecondary education and workforce success,” the CDE website states.
       West had been the only Westside public school identified in November 2010 for a priority plan. The others had been assigned either a performance plan or an improvement plan. At that time, Martinez had said he believed his school's concerns were already being addressed and that the results should be seen in the 2011 CSAPs. Asked about those tests recently, he said the key to the school's upswing was a concerted effort with students to “focus on different ways of thinking about math. Instead of just right or wrong answers, you have to figure out why the answer came out that way. You're thinking deeper then.”
       The analyzed 2011 results for all schools statewide will be released to the public next week, according to the CDE office in Denver.

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