MONTROSE – State test results revealed Hispanic students in Montrose and Olathe schools are narrowing the achievement gap with their white counterparts, and that proficiency ratings among English language learners and those on government lunch programs are on the rise.
More Hispanic children are reaching proficiency on statewide exams, a measurable sign of progress, with the Hispanic population now comprising 38 percent of the Montrose County student population. Statewide, 32 percent of Colorado's students are Hispanic.
The latest scores from the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program Colorado’s standards-based assessment reveal higher proficiency for roughly 100 more Hispanic students, compared to 2011 numbers, an increase of approximately 8 percentage points, from 45 percent to 53 percent. Seventy-seven English Language Learner students have also risen in reading by 10 points, from 36 to 46 percent.
Those on the government's Free or Reduced Lunch Program (FARM) grew by 93 students, from 50 to 57 percent proficiency.
Participation in the district's FARM program indicates the poverty level within the district and its schools. Currently 57 percent of Montrose County schoolchildren are signed up for free or reduced lunches, with the highest number of students in FARM at Northside Elementary School, at 87 percent.
In writing, test results revealed an eight-point gain, from 29 to 37 percent in proficiency, among 106 Hispanic students; a 10-point gain in ELL, from 21 to 31 percent, for 78 students and a five-point gain in 75 FARM students showed a rise from 34 to 39 percent.
In math, 33 Hispanic students gained three points, from 36 to 39 percent; 16 ELL students showed a 2-point gain, from 31 to 33 percent, and 19 FARM students a three-point gain, from 39 to 42 percent.
In science, 44 Hispanic students gained 10 percentage points, from 19 to 29 percent; eight ELL students gained four points, from 13 to 17 percent, and 67 FARM students grew nine percent, from 24 to 33 percent.
"If we can close that one up that will be really helpful," said Laurie Pascoe, Montrose director of curriculum and instruction.
Pascoe said the growth in FARM numbers does not solely reflect the local Hispanic population, nor does it reflect a rise in poverty within the Hispanic community. She remains optimistic that alongside growth in the FARM program, proficiency is rising within that student body, as well. The number of Hispanic, ELL and FARM students listed at partial or unsatisfactory have also made declines over the past three years.
"I think that's a pretty good sign that, over the past three years, it's moving the right direction," Pascoe said.