CASTLE ROCK — If the state’s benchmark test to measure student educational growth and proficiency is any indicator, the debate about whether or not bold reform is working in Douglas County Schools may well be over.
According to scores released by the Colorado Department of Education this week, Douglas County Schools posted some of the highest marks in the state. In fact, on average, DCSD scored more than 12 percentage points above the state average. Also of note, DCSD improved a full 3 points higher than last year in science.
The results are the latest in a string of surveys and scorecards that put student achievement in Douglas County among the best in the state — and across the country.
“I’m extremely proud of our students, our amazing teachers and our outstanding leaders,” said Douglas County Schools Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen. “We know we are doing what is right for kids and the results are excellent.”
Douglas County scored 12 percentage points higher than the state average on the state assessment.
District students also posted higher numbers on the ACT, increasing the average composite score on the test to 21.8.
“This data really supports our belief that when you do what is right for students – prepare them for the 21st century – the results will follow,” Fagen added.
The results stand in contrast to much of the rest of the state, where results showed little year-on-year change.
“For the second year in a row, Colorado student’s TCAP scores have remained mostly flat,” read a Wednesday report in EdNews.
The district’s strong showing on the state test comes on the heels of an assessment by Newsweek that placed six of Douglas County’s schools — Rock Canyon, Douglas County High School, ThunderRidge, Chaparral, Ponderosa, and Highlands Ranch High School — on a list of the nation’s top performing high schools.
Another independent analysis, conducted by Schooldigger.com, ranked Douglas County the highest performing among the state’s most populous school districts last year.
Douglas County’s success in the area of student achievement has been accompanied by positive feedback from district teachers.
A recent statewide survey of educators, dubbed the Colorado “TELL” survey (Teaching, Empowering, Leading & Learning) painted a picture of a school district in which teachers and administrators are engaged and working toward a common goal.
The survey’s results showed that a higher percentage of Douglas County teachers said that there was “an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect in their school” (79 percent), that their “school leadership communicates clear expectations to students and parents” (87 percent), that “the faculty and leadership have a shared vision” (77 percent) and that “the school leadership communicates with the faculty adequately” (82 percent) than did their counterparts in other school districts.
“We focus on what is best for students, measure the most important outcomes, and measure our success with a body of evidence.” Fagen concluded. “This is the best approach for students and staff. This body of evidence is a celebration of our talented teachers and leaders.”