Test scores illustrate PSD’s status as a top-performing Colorado district

Poudre School District students continued to outpace their counterparts around the state on the 2019 Colorado Measures of Academic Success exams (CMAS). The tests, administered last spring, assess student performance in English language arts and mathematics in grades 3-8 as well as social studies and science in select grades. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) also released performance on the PSAT and SAT with the CMAS scores. 
 

Key takeaways from this year's assessments:

  • The percentage of PSD students who met or exceeded state benchmarks was higher than the state. 
  • PSD increased in the percentage of students who met or exceeded state benchmarks for English language arts in grades 4-8.
  • PSD increased or maintained the percentage of students who met or exceeded state benchmarks for mathematics in all grades. 


PSD’s high performance on these assessments illustrates the hard work and deep learning taking place in PSD classrooms across all grade levels.

“The fact that PSD students continue to outperform their peers across the state is a reflection of our high expectations and focus on excellence,” PSD Superintendent Dr. Sandra Smyser said. “We are always working to help our students achieve at higher levels, and this year is no exception. We have opportunities for continued growth, and we will focus on those in the coming year.”

Student scores on CMAS tests are placed into five categories: did not meet expectations, partially met expectations, approached expectations, met expectations and exceeded expectations. Students who meet or exceed expectations are performing at or above grade level in the subject area on the standards being tested. Those who are below expectations are not proficient in one or more standards in the subject area being tested.


Student Achievement 

PSD showed gains on the 2019 test in nearly all subject areas. When comparing a specific grade level from year to year, the results reflect different students’ performances on the same assessment. This can be used as an analysis of instruction at that grade level over time. 

  • PSD saw an increase in the percentage of middle school students who met or exceeded expectations in math. The percentage of elementary students who met or exceeded state benchmarks in math remained steady. 
  • The percentage of PSD students who met or exceeded English language arts benchmarks remained steady or increased in all but one grade level. 
  • The percent of students who met or exceeded these benchmarks in PSD was above the state average for every test and every grade level. 
     

“We had a solid year at the middle school level and are excited to see increases in the percent of students who met or exceeded expectations in both Math and English language arts in PSD,” Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools Scott Nielsen said. “We are particularly proud of the increases that we see in math at all three of the middle school grade levels.”

     


Celebrations! 

  • Of 32 elementary schools, 13 increased achievement in both reading and math. Putnam and Beattie elementary schools have increased student achievement in both categories every year since 2016. 
     
  • Putnam Elementary continues to improve student achievement and had another year of high growth (73 for English language arts and 72 for Math).
     
  • Putnam, Bennett, Harris, Werner, and McGraw elementary schools have seen especially high growth (above 60) in both subject areas for the past three years.
     
  • Twenty-five elementary schools improved student achievement in at least one subject area.
     
  • Nine of 11 middle schools improved student achievement in at least one subject area; 4 of 11 improved achievement in both English language arts and mathematics.  
     
  • Lincoln Middle School dramatically increased student performance in both English language arts and math. In 2019, the number of Lincoln students who met or exceeded expectations increased by 21 percent for English language arts and 10 percent for mathematics. 
     
  • Cache La Poudre Elementary has increased student achievement in English language arts every year since 2016, and improved student achievement in mathematics every year since 2017.
     
  • Dunn, Kruse and Rice elementary schools increased student achievement in mathematics and increased or maintained high student achievement in English language arts. 
     
  • Webber and Kinard middle schools increased performance in math and maintained high performance in English language arts. 



Colorado Academic Standards

Colorado's academic standards (adopted in 2009) describe what students should know and be able to do in each subject area and at each grade level. The state assessments (adopted in 2013) are aligned to the standards to indicate what students are learning. Test scores provide a snapshot in time of PSD student performance in relation to the standards in each content area tested.

Individual CMAS, PSAT and SAT results are currently available on ParentVue. Parents and guardians can find these results under “Student Info.”


Colorado Growth Model

The Colorado Department of Education recently released academic growth data for districts. The Academic Growth Model is the cornerstone of the state’s accountability system, as it measures individual student growth relative to other students statewide in the same grade (based on who began the school year at a similar academic starting point.)


Academic growth measures students’ progress
 
 

CMAS ELA Met or Exceeded Chart

 

 

CMAS Math Percent Met Chart

 

CMAS ELA & Math

Met or Exceeded Expectations

Grade Level

2017

2018

2019

State 2019

Grade 3 ELA

54%

57%

55%

41%

Grade 4 ELA

61%

63%

67%

48%

Grade 5 ELA

60%

63%

66%

48%

Grade 6 ELA

53%

56%

58%

44%

Grade 7 ELA

53%

57%

57%

47%

Grade 8 ELA

56%

54%

60%

47%

Grade 3 Math

57%

55%

55%

41%

Grade 4 Math

52%

52%

54%

34%

Grade 5 Math

51%

55%

55%

36%

Grade 6 Math

45%

44%

47%

30%

Grade 7 Math

41%*

45%*

47%

32%

Grade 8 Math

46%*

48%*

56%

37%

*In 2017 and 2018 percentages include students who participated in grade level tests as well as Algebra I (grades 7 and 8) and Geometry (grade 8). 

 

When using the Colorado Growth Model, PSD typically looks at the district-wide median growth percentiles. The median growth percentiles are a means of comparing academic growth for schools and districts that serve different populations of students. Any median that exceeds the state norm of 50 is considered evidence that PSD student's obtained levels of academic growth that exceeded their academic peers statewide.

PSD’s median growth percentiles on CMAS remained high in 2019, as evidenced by elementary English language arts, and mathematics, and middle school mathematics remaining above 50.
 

“It’s no surprise that our elementary schools are seeing such high levels of growth and achievement,” Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools Todd Lambert said. “Our administrators and staff are deeply committed to their collaborative efforts to improve student outcomes at every level.”

There was a dip in middle school English language arts growth, which PSD will examine during its improvement planning this fall.


Pre-SAT AND SAT

PSD’s PSAT and SAT achievement results exceeded state averages for both total score as well as College and Career Readiness benchmarks. This indicates that a high percentage of PSD students are on track for college success. Ninth-, tenth- and eleventh-grade students take the PSAT.

PSD students continued to outpace their state counterparts in terms of overall score, as well as the percentage of students meeting benchmarks for college readiness. These benchmarks predict a 75 percent likelihood of achieving at least a C in a set of first-semester, credit-bearing college courses. 


PSD CMAS English Language Arts and Math

Percent Met/Exceeded by Subject

Percent met and exceeded are calculated by dividing the count of students scoring at performance levels 4 and 5 divided by the tests that received scores.  Exact percentages and average scale scores may differ from state reporting, which applies additional criteria for inclusion for accountability calculations. 

For CMAS ELA and math testing, Colorado participated in the PARCC Consortium in 2015-16 and 2016-17 whereas 2017-18 and 2018-19 testing is state-specific CMAS. Test names and performance levels remain the same.

Chart of PSD CMAS test scores at elementary schools.

 

Chart of PSD CMAS test scores at middle schools and charter schools.