Schools Get “Green” Light from State
“I’ve been following Superintendent Wyman for a couple of years,” said Joyce Rankin, State Board of Education Lake County Representative (CD3), “and through her dedication and perseverance and the hard work of the teachers and staff in Lake County, the accountability scores are on the rise. Congratulations to all for a job well done!”
So, with new wind in its sails, the Lake County School District steps firmly into the start of the academic year with the final results of the 2017 state assessments. And this time the news is good, very good: Lake County Intermediate School and Lake County High School both received ratings of Performance, also known as green, the highest academic rating a school can receive. The district as a whole also received a green rating, known as Accredited. West Park Elementary does not receive a state rating because it does not serve students in the tested grades, 3rd-12th.
There are four levels of rating that individual schools can receive: Turnaround (red), Priority Improvement (orange), Improvement (yellow) and Performance (green). Districts can receive one of five ratings: Accredited with a Turnaround Plan (red), Accredited with a Priority Improvement Plan (orange), Accredited with an Improvement Plan (yellow), Accredited (green) and Accredited with Distinction (blue). School and district ratings are determined by a formula that weights factors such as academic achievement, academic growth, graduation rate and matriculation to college. Schools or districts that receive red or orange ratings are put on a watch list and have five years to improve before state intervention becomes possible.
Last year, LCIS received a rating of Improvement (yellow), LCHS received a rating of Priority Improvement (orange), and the district received a rating of Accredited with a Priority Improvement Plan (orange). Now, one year later, all three are rated green.
“To have both schools and the district achieve a green rating is a huge achievement by our students and our teachers,” said Superintendent Wendy Wyman. “This is not a nuanced or subjective measure. This is an objective rating of the quality of our schools by the State of Colorado. It is external validation of what we, for several years, have known and believed: Our schools are incredible institutions of learning that are serving, caring for and challenging Lake County kids.”
The district indicated that these results do not represent the end of its work to ensure that all Lake County students achieve. The percentage of Lake County students meeting or exceeding expectations on state assessments remains below state figures for most grade levels and academic content areas. With students demonstrating high growth from year to year, as local students are doing, proficiency will come. But it will require continued focus and effort at all levels. LCIS Principal Stephanie Gallegos reflected, “This achievement would not have happened without a strong vision and support from the top down. It takes a whole system to move things! Now we will use this momentum to get all of our kids to proficiency.”
Lake County High School saw the biggest jump in its rating. The school received 37.1% of possible framework points in 2016, and 64% in 2017. Last year was also the first year the school had a new leader, principal Ben Cairns. Asked about the remarkable turnaround in the school’s performance, Cairns said, “Lots of people have done so much over the last several years to make this possible. I am super honored to be a part of this team and a part of this work.”
Wyman is quick to point out the impact of talented school leaders and talented educators on the district’s achievement. “All of our schools have incredible leadership right now. Ben, Stephanie and Kathleen Fitzsimmons at West Park are visionary principals with the expertise and character to take a goal from vision to reality. And beyond the principal’s office, the folks who are really creating change for kids in Lake County are those who have their boots on the ground in our schools every day: teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians, cooks, bus drivers and many more. We absolutely couldn’t have done this without an extraordinary team.”