May 22, 2014 4:15 PM by Andy Koen
PUEBLO - Two hundred students from Bessemer Elementary and Minnequa Elementary went to watch the Colorado Rockies play the San Fransico Giants Thursday thanks to the Pueblo Poverty Foundation who rewarded the kids for learning their vocabulary words.
"I said that the kids who worked the hardest and learned the most words, that I would take them to a Rockies game," explained foundation director Ray Aguilera. "So, this is the payoff."
Ironically, those two schools also scored the lowest on this year's 3rd Grade T-CAP reading tests of any schools in the district. Pueblo City Schools Assistant Superintendent for Learning Services Dr. Brenda Krage, Ph.D. said there is a simple reason why Bessemer had a low score.
"Bessemer had a misadministration that occurred in a classroom," She explained.
As a result, all 20 tests in that class were thrown out and not counted.
Clayton Hollingshead, the Director of Assessment Administration for the Colorado Department of Education explains mis-administered tests are frequently the result of unintended actions.
"It's usually an accident,"Hollingshead said.
For example, a student may turn the page ahead of schedule or go back and review an answer in a previous section. That may seem strict, but Hollingshead said it is necessary to maintain the integrity of the tests.
"We try to have the entire school take the same test sessions, at the same time, for the same grade level so that when the kids intermingle, say at lunch or at recess, they all are at the same place in the test."
But that doesn't explain the 32 percent drop at Minnequa Elementary where no tests were thrown out. In fact, Bessemer, Minnequa, Goodnight, Beulah Heights and the Heroes Academy (formerly Somerlid Elementary) all saw double-digit decreases in reading proficiency. Chavez Huerta, a charter school, also saw a 14 percent drop.
"What I can tell you, in our literacy program at the elementary level, is that we are in great need of new resources and materials for our teachers," said Dr. Krage.
Elementary reading text books across the district are at least a decade old. Many were first published in 2001 and reprinted in 2003. The Pueblo City Schools Board of Education is interested in buying new text books, but they are expensive.
"A typical K-12 textbook adoption is around a million dollars," Krage explained.
Not all of the scores were negative. In fact, four schools saw double-digit improvement including Heritage Elementary, the Pueblo School for Arts and Science, Eva R. Baca Elementary and Sunset Park which jumped a whopping 27 percent.
Taken together as a whole, third grade reading proficiency dropped district wide from 74.6 percent last year to 71 percent this year.
Nevertheless, Dr. Krage is confident when the full results come out it will lift them off of the state Priority Improvement watch list.
"We are very hopeful and positive that we're actually going to pull out of Priority Improvement this year as a district," Krage said.
The full T-CAP results will be released in August.
Click on a school icon in this interactive map to see the 2013 and 2014 scores.