By Chris Selle
Special to the Herald Times
MEEKER I The purpose for which schools exist is to help students learn. Given this truth, how do we determine the level of student learning occurring in the Meeker School District? Student learning cannot be simply reduced to a singular number or grade. While this may be convenient, we must use multiple sources of information to truly evaluate student learning and to determine if we are meeting the district’s mission statement which includes the phrase, “students learn those skills necessary to become well-informed citizens and contributing members of society.”
The most concrete assessment of student learning comes through test scores. Test scores alone cannot provide a comprehensive view of student learning, but they do provide valuable information. The Colorado Department of Education annually releases a District Performance Framework (DPF) for each school district in the state. The DPF contains a score derived primarily from the tests required by the State of Colorado (PARCC, PSAT, SAT, etc…).
It also incorporates some post-secondary readiness information. School districts are placed in one of five “accreditation” categories, depending on their DPF score. For 2016, the Meeker School District scored enough points on the DPF to be Accredited with Distinction, which is the highest possible category. The entire DPF can be found at meeker.k12.co.us.
As mentioned, this document does not tell the entire story of learning in our school district, but it is a great accomplishment achieved by our students and staff.
In addition to the state tests, we give other tests to help us measure student learning. The DIBELS measures are used at the elementary level to measure student’s proficiency in reading. MAP tests are used to determine student’s proficiency in mathematics, reading, and science in kindergarten through 11th grade. With both DIBELS and MAP testing, students in the Meeker School District consistently show achievement at or above national averages and show strong academic growth through the school year. Combined with state assessments and teacher generated assessments, these tests give us an indication of student’s ability to read and write proficiently as well as think critically and problem solve. These are essential skills for students to become productive citizens.
Phenomenal opportunities for student learning also occur in our elective and extracurricular programs that cannot be measured through testing. Anyone in our community that has attended concerts, plays, or extracurricular contests can clearly see teamwork, perseverance, and self confidence built through these activities. The development of citizenship, creativity, and problem solving is evident through student artwork, industrial arts projects, technology integration and positive behavior and attendance recognition. These examples are merely a sample of the types of activities, and the associated learning, present in our school district which cannot be measured through test scores. While the assessment of learning in these areas will never be as concrete as test scores, these skills are also critical for students to become productive members of society.
Ultimately, how well we prepare students for their chosen endeavors following graduation is the true test of learning. The district accountability committee, through direction from the school board, has engaged in a process to gather this information from Meeker graduates. The sources of information regarding student learning already evident in our school district, combined with what I believe we will find through graduate surveys, gives me further reason to proclaim I am proud to be a Meeker Cowboy!
By Chris Selle