By the numbers

Colorado’s 2015 science and social studies test results in eight graphs

PHOTO: Susan Gonzalez
Students Maliah and Kayla at the Imaginarium's Summer Lab camp at Columbine Elementary School.

The Colorado Department of Education today released the results from the state’s social studies and science tests that some elementary and middle school students took this spring.

Generally, scores were up this year, which was only the second times the tests have ever been give. But eighth grade students did lose ground in science.

You can read our story about the results here. And search a database for your school’s scores here. But let’s take a look at the numbers in eight graphs. Each graph shows the percentage of students who met or exceeded expectations. Those students are considered to have either a “strong” or “distinguished” command of the content on the test and are on track for life after high school.

Most of the state’s largest districts followed state trends in both science and social studies. Boulder led the pack in fifth grade science tests. While Podure eighth grades did the best on their science tests.

None of the state’s largest school districts lost ground in social studies.

Even though some ground was lost, students in large school districts with high free- or reduced-lunch rates in the Pikes Peak Region seemed to do better than their counter parts across the state.

In a bit of shock, Denver’s largest — and arguably most successful — charter network DSST lost the most ground of any of the city’s middle schools in eighth grade science. The network’s middle school are still among the district’ best, its leaders point out. Meanwhile KIPP Sunshine made biggest gains, jumping nearly 10 percentage points.

Denver’s biggest gains and losses on the fourth grade social studies test all came from district-run schools. The losses at Whittier K-8, in northeast Denver, were so great that not a single fourth grader passed the state’s proficiency bar on the social studies test.

While three out of every 10 Asian students in Colorado met the state’s expectations on the social studies test this year, fewer than one out of every 10 Latino or black students did.

Hispanic eighth graders lost more ground than any other ethnic group of students. On average, 3 percentage points were lost among Hispanic students while other ethnic groups saw only a 2 point drop.

The Julesburg school district, in Colorado’s most northeastern corner, lost the most ground on science tests this year compared to its peers on the state’s accountability watch list. The dramatic swing is likely due in part to the small size of the school district. Meanwhile, fifth graders in the Sheridan School District, southeast of Denver, made the biggest gains of 9 percentage points.

Data source: Colorado Department of Education. Graphics by Sarah Glen.


¿Cuantos niños en su escuela son inmunizados?

Monserrat Cholico, 8, en la Crawford Kids Clinic en Aurora en 2015 (Denver Post).

Chalkbeat recolectó datos para ayudar a los padres a entender si las escuelas de sus hijos están protegidos de enfermedades. Busque su escuela en nuestra base de datos.

“Immunization rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes que están totalmente inmunizados.

“Exemption rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes cuyos padres optaron por no vacunar a sus hijos.

“Compliance rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes que están siguiendo la ley de Colorado. La ley dice que los estudiantes deben obtener vacunas o firmar formularios de exención.

Choosing college

State’s college attendance rate shows slight turnaround

PHOTO: Oliver Morrison

The percentage of Colorado high school students enrolling in college right after graduation increased slightly in 2014, according to a new report from the Department of Higher Education.

Of 2014’s 53,771 graduates, 55.8 percent went on to college immediately, up from the 2013 rate but three percentage points below the record in 2009, according to the Report on the Postsecondary Progress and Success of High School Graduates (full copy at bottom of this article).

In the recession year of 2009, when the state started compiling the report, 58.8 percent of high school grads went to college.

“The most recent, 2014, is the first cohort whose enrollment rate increased from the previous year,” the report noted. “Previously, all graduating classes included in this report had a lower enrollment rate than their previous year.”

The report “is good news because so many of the jobs in our technology and information based economy require post-secondary credentials,” said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who’s also executive director of the department. “However, the report also reveals that we have continuing and significant gaps in post-secondary outcomes and that students from certain demographic groups are doing much better than others. If we are to meet our education and workforce goals, we must do a better job of supporting low income, rural, and minority students so that they graduate with a credential that will lead to a living wage job.”

Overall college enrollment tends to rise when the economy is weak and drop when times improve. Fall enrollment in 2014 was 251,778, down from the recent high of 284,405 in 2011.

The report details continuing disparities between demographic groups in college attendance and success. Postsecondary enrollment for Latino students is nearly 20 percentage points below white students, and, after their first year of college, African-American students on average earn nearly 10 fewer credits than white students, it said.

“As Colorado’s demographics continue to change and labor markets increasingly demand quality postsecondary credentials, ensuring the state’s future economic prosperity requires that these educational gaps be highlighted and strategically addressed,” the report said.

The report also breaks out college-going rates for individual districts. The district with the highest college attendance rate was Limon, with 84.4 percent of its 32 2014 graduates going on to higher education.

Larger districts in the top 10 included Cheyenne Mountain, Douglas County, Lewis-Palmer and Littleton.

The Plateau Valley district in eastern Mesa County had the lowest rate, 16 percent. Metro-area districts in the bottom 10 included Adams 14, Englewood, Sheridan and Westminster.

Some 76 percent of 2014 grads attended Colorado colleges, and 74 percent of those students attended four-year schools. The most popular schools were Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Boulder. Front Range Community College attracted the largest number of students enrolling in two-year schools.

The annual study examines not only college-going rates but also grade point averages, credits earned, persistence and graduation rates going back to the class of 2009.

Members of the high school class of 2014 who attended Colorado colleges had an average grade point average of 2.78 during their freshman year. Those students completed an average of 30 credits by the end of 2014-15.

Search for your district’s college-going rates here:

And read the Department of Higher Education’s report here: