High school wins the Cup

Those in attendance at the Archuleta County School District 50 Joint board meeting had reason to celebrate Tuesday night when the board was presented with the Commissioner’s Cup by Pagosa Springs High School Principal David Hamilton.

The Commissioner’s Cup was awarded to Hamilton at a Sept. 17 ceremony in Denver, acknowledging the school’s consistent improvement in minority student CSAP scores.

Speakers at the ceremony included Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, former governor Roy Romer, Colorado Education Association President Beverly Ingle, Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones, and chairman of the Colorado Legacy Foundation Dr. Stephen Shogan.

Pagosa Springs High School earned the award as a recognition for being one of the few schools in the state featured in “Profiles of Success,” a report co-sponsored by the Donnell-Kay and Piton foundations. The report, released last February, recognizes schools that are making progress in closing the achievement gap between white and minority students.

“Closing that achievement gap,” Hamilton said, “Is what the state calls ‘beating the odds.’”

In order to qualify for such recognition, schools must show consistent improvement in minority student CSAP scores over a three-year period.

The Commissioner’s Cup was developed by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). According to the CDE, the Commissioner’s Cup is part of a three-pronged plan developed last year to boost school performance throughout the state and across districts. The plan, called “Forward Thinking,” also includes a newly-developed “Best Practices Guide” (for identifying and instituting proven classroom methods) and a strategic partnership with private sector supporters — the Colorado Legacy Foundation.

Though pleased with the recognition of accomplishment, Hamilton checked the ACT scores of minority students over the past five years to see if performance matched CSAP improvement. “I was wondering if we really had closed the achievement gap.

“I looked at those scores and saw that we had indeed closed the gap.”

Since CSAP scores are only a measure of school performance, while ACT scores are usually the first step towards college admissions, Hamilton can rest assured that the Commissioner’s Cup was well-earned and deserved.

After presenting the Commissioner’s Cup to the school board, the cup was given back to Hamilton. It will be on display at Pagosa Springs High School.

jim@pagosasun.com