BVSD Scores Return to Pre-pandemic Levels, Highlight Growth at Schools With Support
BOULDER - The Boulder Valley School District continued its tradition of excellence, once again proving to be one of the highest performing school districts in the metro area and outpacing the state average in the testing data just released by the state of Colorado.
What is most notable, however, is the growth shown at our highest poverty schools thanks to the All Together for All Students Strategic Plan.
“Some of the brightest spots in our growth are in schools where we are intentionally investing in leadership development, staffing support, building capacity in teachers and practices, and differentiated funding,” explained BVSD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Lora De La Cruz. “In particular we are impressed with, and excited about, two of our highest support schools - Alicia Sanchez and Columbine Elementary Schools who made incredible growth due to their hard work and focus on DDI (Data Driven Instruction), as well as due to the fact that BVSD has provided resources and support to optimize the work at these schools and to strengthen the conditions for teaching and learning.”
Data Driven Instruction is the practice, being integrated across the Boulder Valley School District, in which educators focus on student progress indicators over the course of the year, to better understand the academic needs of their students, so that they can provide individualized support, as needed.
Seeing gains is especially noteworthy, given the challenges faced by students and schools over the past couple of years including the global pandemic.
“Last year was a really hard year,” admitted De La Cruz. “I have to commend our outstanding teachers and staff, who worked diligently. The growth was even better than we anticipated.”
BVSD expects these gains to grow in coming years as promising practices from the strategic plan scale to other schools, training is provided to staff and supports are better calibrated, ensuring that students across our district have more consistent experiences. Additionally, new tools are being provided to schools to help educators determine the needs of students in reading and math. Additionally, differentiated funding is empowering schools to add staffing in key areas, address class sizes and other issues.
Below is additional information regarding the recent release of CMAS and PSAT/SAT data from BVSD:
Participation in BVSD has stabilized
As seen statewide, Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) participation in BVSD approached levels seen in 2018-19, the last full year of testing pre-pandemic.
At the elementary, 94% of students tested, compared with 86% at middle level. Combined participation at these levels is 90%.
This exceeds the combined PSAT/SAT participation of 85%, which is just over four points lower than in the last full year of testing; this is due mostly to decreases in participation in 9th and 10th grades. In all, approximately 11,000 BVSD students completed a CMAS math test in Grades 3-8, with a similar number completing English Language Arts or, in grades 3-4 at dual language programs, Spanish Language Arts. A little more than 2,000 students at each of grades 9, 10 and 11 took the PSAT or SAT.
Achievement remains high and relatively stable in BVSD
BVSD students’ CMAS results are generally similar to 2018-19 at the elementary level. CMAS ELA at middle level and high school PSAT and SAT Evidence Based Reading and Writing also approached 2018-19 levels. However, secondary math results are several points below 2018-19 levels. The decrease in math was greatest at grades 7, 9 and 11.
Note: Caution should be used in interpreting changes on the SAT and PSAT scores during this time period due to potential changes in student motivation, along with a decline in participation rate on PSAT in particular. College entrance exam scores are not as widely required for college admissions as they were pre-pandemic. BVSD students continue to score well above the state average, with large and mostly unchanged achievement gaps between Latinx students’ scores and those of students overall.
Large gaps persist for students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch (FRL)
Note: Performance of FRL students in 2022 generally should not be compared to past years, due to a substantial increase in eligible students based on lost housing in the Marshall fire.
Growth approaches pre-pandemic levels
Due to last year’s (2020-21) CMAS Language Arts testing having been required only in grades 3, 5 and 7 with only Math being required in grades 4, 6 and 8, this year’s CMAS growth score calculations were based on ELA results for 4th, 6th and 8th graders, and Math results for 5th and 7th graders. PSAT and SAT growth covers grades 9 through 11.
As with achievement, BVSD students’ ELA growth results for this year approach pre-pandemic levels, with a median growth percentile of 52 at both elementary and middle grades, and 59 for high school Evidence Based Reading and Writing.
CMAS math growth increased substantially relative to 2018-19, reaching 62 at elementary and 55 at middle level. High school math growth declined from 66 to 60.
BVSD students as a whole exceeded statewide growth at each level in both academic areas.
However, growth gaps persist and generally worsened over this time period. Latinx students’ median growth was 12 points lower than district overall growth at the middle and high school levels, and 7 to 10 points lower at the elementary level. Emerging bilingual students made greater growth than students statewide on the ACCESS test, with a median growth percentile of 59.
Introducing the new science test
Science tests were new this year. Fifth Grade participation (92%) and eighth Grade participation (80%) approached the levels observed on other CMAS tests, but 11th Grade participation (15%) was too low to yield results that are representative of the district as a whole. Performance standards have not yet been set on these tests, so they yielded information limited to achievement percentiles. BVSD students performed well overall, earning a median achievement percentile of 70 at 5th grade and 68 at 8th Grade. Latinx students scored a median achievement percentile of 34 at both 5th grade and 8th grade, meaning that the middle achieving Latinx fifth grader (or eighth grader) outperformed thirty four percent of students who took the CMAS Science tests statewide. Students who were eligible for FRL attained median achievement percentiles of 43 at 5th Grade and 42 at 8th Grade.