"We were thrilled that in the first year we saw such change, such dramatic growth," Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg said.
Last year, the district proposed to make major reforms in far northeast Denver in the Montbello and Green Valley Ranch areas. A group of residents opposed the move at the time.
"I want our children to be on target, proficient at grade level before I celebrate," resident Mary Sams said.
Boasberg is excited about banner gains in far northeast Denver. Students grew in all subjects, especially math. With the implementation of a math tutoring program, some classes saw growth scores of around 80 points in mathematics.
"Eighty percent growth might be good, but if you start it at the bottom in the bottom percentile, then you still may not be at target [proficiency rate]," Sams said.
Boasberg says this is a great start for a group of schools trying innovative things to improve learning.
"We're starting school here three weeks earlier," Boasberg said. "The school day is an hour longer. The teachers are working hard. The students are working hard. There's great parent support. It's truly night and day."
Other districts in the Metro area point to areas where test scores improved significantly in certain subgroups. In the Sheridan School District, students in grades 4, 6, and 8 posted double digit increases in proficiency.
"These are powerful results that show Sheridan students taking a strong step forward," Sheridan Superintendent Michael Clough said in a statement.
Littleton Public Schools is enjoying a performance rate up to 21 percentage points higher than the state average. Plus, Littleton Schools is seeing a decrease in the gap between low income students and the rest of the district.
"Increasing student achievement and closing gaps in student performance is hard work," Littleton Superintendent Scott Murphy said in a statement.
In the Adams 50 School District, students showed improvement in 19 of the 27 testing categories for students in all grade levels. Adams 50 is a struggling district cited for "turnaround" plans which now appear to be working as students continue to grow in reading, math, science, and writing.
In a released statement Adams 50 Superintendent Pamela Swanson said, "The results show that our focus on rigor and accountability is paying off, especially at the elementary school level,"
In larger districts, the story is similar. Douglas County Schools has more than 85 percent of its schools performing above the state averages in all grade levels. Administrators also cite a decrease in the achievement gap in writing scores for 4th grade students and 6th grade students.
Jefferson County is the state's biggest school district. Jeffco students showed above average growth in math from elementary school to high school. Over the last three years, Jeffco reading scores outpaced the state average in all grade levels.
"These scores show that our students and staff are continuing traditions of academic excellence," said Jeffco Superintendent Cindy Stevenson, in a statement. "We've shown gains, but we still have work to do to make sure every one of our kids is college and career ready."
Cherry Creek School officials are happy about a reading proficiency rates around 80 percent for students in 6th and 7th grades. Cherry Creek is also seeing a reduction in the achievement gap between black, Hispanic and Native American students compared to white and Asian Students.
"We are still not where we need to be in terms of closing the achievement gap, but we are seeing progress in the right direction," said Cherry Creek Assistant Superintendent Elliot Asp, in a statement.
A few months ago, a Denver elementary school came under scrutiny for suspiciously high test scores. After a state investigation at Beach Court Elementary, investigators concluded that Principal Frank Roti cheated by erasing and changing answers in his office. Last year's test scores were thrown out. But, the numbers show that while 2011 proficiency rates were in the 80-to-90 percent range, the 2012 scores shows proficiency rates closer to 40-and-50 percent.
"I think that the latest scores are a clearer reflection of where the kids are," Boasberg said. "I think that is part of the tragedy. The tragedy is we're not telling kids the truth. We're not telling parents the truth."
Roti, through his attorney, has issued statements denying all the cheating accusations that led to his termination.
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