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Dolores posts mixed marks on test scores, plans to improve

Dolores RE-4A school district received their CMAS test scores and is making plans to improve this year. (Unsplash)
The district saw improvements in math but setbacks in English

After receiving CMAS scores for the 2022-2023 school year, Dolores RE-4A Superintendent Reece Blincoe shared areas where the school hopes to improve and some of the district’s goals and plans for the 2023-2024 school year.

Overall, Blincoe said the school saw improvements on the Colorado Measure of Academic Success tests where they had struggled with during the 2021-2022 school year.

“We thought we did OK,” Blincoe said. “OK to good. We fixed a lot of things that we were in the hole on last year.”

However, the district’s score were not where they want to be, and the district will be working on an improvement plan.

When compared with the state average for meeting expectations, Dolores was about 10 percentage points behind. The state average for ELA in 2023 is 43.7% and 32.9% for math. Dolores’ ELA percentage was 32.1% and math’s was 24.5%.

While they had “great gains” in math, Blincoe noted that English and Language Arts took a hit and emphasis would be added to this subject, as well as subgroups.

“We definitely need to work on the ELA piece quite a bit,” he said.

Reece Blincoe, superintendent of Dolores School District Re-4A.

In the elementary school, math scores were good and ELA was “approaching good.” It was a similar story in the middle school and high school, while math saw improvement, ELA saw a slight decline in performance.

“The growth measure was not great,” Blincoe said, adding, “We’ve got to get better on our students with disabilities.”

Another area Blincoe hopes to see improve in the current school year is the academic growth and achievement of students on free and reduced lunches.

“Our students in free and reduced lunches didn’t meet the standard and we’ve got to work on that,” Blincoe said. “Had they met that standard, we would have been in good shape.”

High school CMAS scores are determined through SAT and PSAT scores, and while it’s something Blincoe says they need to improve, he shared that he doesn’t believe these standardized tests are the best way to determine how schools are doing, especially in a school where a high percentage of students are planning on going straight into a career instead of on to college.

He pointed out that these tests don’t factor in career certifications and training in trades and jobs.

“It’s a false indicator,” Blincoe said. “I am totally opposed to the state using SAT and PSAT as the sole indicator of how our schools are doing.”

“Should we get better on it? Sure,” he said. “Can we be better on it? Sure. But there’s so many other things we’re trying to help our kids with too.”

Another struggle facing the school, and most districts in the state and across the country, is attendance.

“You’ll hear this across the state. Our attendance is horrific,” Blincoe said.

During the 2022-2023 school year, Dolores saw multiple students miss 20 to 30 days of school, leading the district to create stricter attendance policies while trying to educate parents and students on the importance of attending school.

“As simple as this is, if the kids aren’t here, they can’t learn,” Blincoe said. “We’re cracking down on attendance. These kids have got to start coming back to school.”

High school Principal Justin Schmitt will give a presentation at the Dolores school board meeting on Friday to discuss attendance.

Blincoe shared that the district has various plans to see improvement in their schools.

They are starting their second year with the Get Better Faster program, which helps improve teacher instructional methods.

“We feel like it’s going really good,” Blincoe said. “We found some teachers that are top-notch instructors, and we’ve actually brought them in to help us help other teachers.”

The district is also diving deeper into data, helping teachers use data to know how to best help their students learn and improve in areas they are struggling, and Blincoe said that teachers will know where the kids in their classroom are at.

“They can understand where they may be falling short and where they may need to improve,” he said. “The emphasis this year is data and looking at that data and working on weaknesses.”

“And then we’re working on our instruction,” he continued. “We believe in our curriculum, and if we do the same things, we will continue to improve.”

In 2019, Dolores had a mean scale score of 739 in ELA and 730 in math, with 49 and 66 not meeting expectations, respectively.

In 2022, since 2020 and 2021 don’t have data due to COVID, ELA had a mean scale score of 739, and 36 students not meeting expectations, while the score was 730 in math with 49 not meeting expectations.

2023 showed a mean scale score of 737 for ELA, with 38 not meeting expectations. In math, it had a score of 729 in math, with 48 not meeting expectations.

The state average for ELA in 2023 is 43.7% and 32.9% for math. Dolores’ ELA percentage was 32.1% and math’s was 24.5%.