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Douglas County Schools

Test scores show growth, room for improvement

DCSD outperforms state in all but one area


Standardized test-score results released in August show that the Douglas County School District outperformed the state in all but one test category, but the district saw drops in several categories since last year.

Under the Colorado Measures of Academic Success standards, students take science, math, social studies and English language arts tests at the end of each school year. Test results tell how students are performing and growing compared to their peers across the district and state, according to the Colorado Department of Education.

Douglas County School District's results paint a picture of student achievement and growth, said Assistant Superintendent Ted Knight. He pointed out that every traditional high school in the district scored above the state average on the PSAT and SAT. Rock Canyon High School, SkyView Academy and Stem School Highlands Ranch were in the state's top 20 schools for SAT scores.

“Overall, we are proud of our results,” Knight said, “and we always know that there is work to do.”

DCSD tends to have a high opt-out rate compared to the state and other school districts when it comes to testing, interim Superintendent Erin Kane said in a letter to parents posted on the district's website.At the elementary level, 86 percent of DCSD students took the test. In charter schools, 88 percent of students tested. At the middle school level, 63 percent of students tested. And across all high schools, just 44 percent of students participated.

The district saw growth in some test areas. Third-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade ELA saw a rise in the “met or exceeded expectations” category from the 2015-16 school year. It saw dips in middle- and high-school math. Fifth-grade math had a 0.5 percentage point drop in the “met or exceeded expectations” category, Integrated Math 1 had a 9.4 percentage point drop and Algebra 1 had an 8.2 percentage point drop.

Douglas County students outperformed the state in the “met or exceeded expectations” categories in ELA, science, social studies and math — all grades except eighth, in which many students opt to take the Algebra 1 test instead, according to the district.

School board member David Ray noted that assessment results are only one snapshot of how well the district's students are performing.

“Unfortunately, there is a tendency to use these results as a way to recognize `high performing' schools as opposed to considering the many variables that contribute to a student's success,” Ray said in an email. “These variables go beyond quality instruction and include parent involvement, positive school cultures, skilled leadership and clearly defined academic expectations.”


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