Academic improvements allow Weld Re-8 to receive performance framework rankings boost

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By Jeremy Johnson

FORT LUPTON — Just days after the Weld Re-8 superintendent resigned amid claims he wasn’t doing enough to help students achieve academic success, the state’s board of education delivered a seemingly contradictory message.

According to a press release from the district Aug. 19, Weld Re-8 is poised to “move up” in both district and state performance frameworks after receiving a new but tentative rating from the Colorado Board of Education. The new rankings will remain tentative pending a further review by Weld Re-8’s District Accountability Committee (DAC) and action from the school board itself. The board will take action in October before delivering their recommendation back to the state board of education for final approval.

The ratings, given by the board of education, are determined by a number of “key data indicators,” including recently released TCAP scores, growth scores, sub-group performance and post-secondary readiness, according to the district. The district’s rating went from 48.6 percent in 2013 to 53.6 percent this year.

The new “improvement” rating is one step up from the previous “priority improvement” rating and further separates the district from the bottom “turnaround” rating. Both the latter ratings could have resulted in possible state sanctions had the district not increased its rating, but the latest rating means the possibility of any sanctions have been lifted.

In particular, Twombly Elementary — which was guided last year by principal Gayle Dunlap, who has since moved into an administrative position with the district — showed the greatest improvement in terms of TCAP scores and, consequently, performance framework ratings. Rated “improvement” last year, Twombly will now be ranked a “performance” school, the highest rating offered by the state’s board of education. The rating means Twombly “meets or exceeds statewide attainment on the performance indicators,” according to the district’s press release.

While Butler Elementary slipped slightly in rating percentage, it has maintained its “improvement” status for another year. Fort Lupton Middle School, meanwhile, fell from previous “performance” rating back down to “improvement.” However, the district intends to file a “Request for Reconsideration,” saying “the school’s points barely fell below the cut points needed to attain the ‘performance’ rating.”

The high school continues to be the lowest-performing school in the district, according to the release, but maintained its “improvement” rating this year despite a 50.5 percent rating.

“Fort Lupton High School has retained its previous rating of ‘improvement’ status although scores in areas such as math did fall dramatically this past year,” the release read. “The school’s rating has continued to slip and the district is working with the school on a 45-day and 90-day action plan to increase student achievement in the core content areas of math and language arts.”

At the district’s first meeting of the academic year Aug. 11, Mark Payler announced he was resigning after more than a decade at the helm of Fort Lupton’s school district. A group of “concerned citizens” had begun earlier in the summer pushing for his departure, saying he hadn’t done enough to help the district achieve academic success.

In a statement included in the press release, Payler continued to praise the system that is in place and said the pieces are there for continued academic achievement.

“It took a team effort to see the positive results we are seeing in the recently released tentative ratings,” he said. “But surely these ratings demonstrate to the public that the district is on the right path toward raising academic success.

“The solution to increasing student achievement is already here,” he added. “Good, solid instruction practices need to be supported by the district and community — they will lead all students toward academic success. The answer is all about solid instructional practices, systematically implemented, which produce positive results. The ongoing challenge will be for all schools to raise their achievement to the level our students are capable of reaching.”


Contact Staff Writer Jeremy Johnson at 303-659-2522, ext. 217, or jjohnson@metrowestnewspapers.com.