Ignacio Middle School is celebrating a quiet victory in the middle of the school year. The school's state CMAS scores in math and English in 2018 made significant improvements over 2017.
"This shows high academic growth across the board," said IMS Principal Chris deKay. "Our staff understands the real need of meeting kids at their individual working level."
IMS students scored 61 in English Language Arts in the spring of 2018, compared to a score of 50 for all students in Colorado. It was also a significant improvement over last year's score of 45.
Math was close behind, with a score of 60, also an improvement over 2017's score of 48.
In 2016, Ignacio's scores improved enough to move the district off of the "accountability clock," meaning the Colorado Education Department was no longer monitoring the district for a possible takeover by the state.
"It's a lot of professional development," said Ignacio Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto of the district-wide improvements in testing results. "It's going through the data and asking, 'Are the kids making progress or not?' That's important."
In addition to the focus on academics, there's a social and emotional component that is important for learning as well, deKay added. Particularly in middle school, students need to learn the importance of resiliency and kindness, he added. Those traits aren't measured by state tests, but they're important for student success. The district's Character Counts programs, along with a Multi Tier Support System, create an atmosphere where student success is valued.
Fuschetto said the district's building program from 2012 to 2015 is an important factor in student success, as well. The new middle school building and revamped elementary and high schools are facilities the community - and its students - can be proud of.
Ignacio is a small district. There are 725 students in all grades, with 190 of them at IMS. The staff works hard, but like many other small, rural districts, staff leaving for higher-paying jobs elsewhere is an issue.
"We had some turnover this year," deKay said.
To celebrate the improving scores, all IMS staff received a new jacket this fall to thank them for their efforts in educating local students.
"Hopefully, we'll keep going," Fuschetto said.