Not As Good As You Think: Colorado

Read the Study
Many middle-class Coloradoans think that most low-performing schools are located in poor inner cities such as Denver, not in their nice neighborhoods or in their smaller towns. They need to think again.

Based on a variety of indicators, many Colorado public schools with predominantly non-low income middle class student populations are not as good as people think.

Among the 103 predominantly non-low income high schools in Colorado, 77 or 75 percent, had at least one grade-level math or reading exam where 50 percent or more of these students failed to reach proficiency. Virtually all of these grade level failures were in mathematics, which indicates that many Colorado middle-class students may not be receiving adequate preparation for STEM learning in college and STEM-related jobs in the marketplace. For example:

  • At Fort Collins High School in Fort Collins, 53 percent of ninth-graders failed to score at or above the proficient level on the 2014 Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) math exam. On the tenth grade TCAP math exam, 60 percent of Fort Collins High test-takers failed to hit the proficient mark.
  • At Monarch High School in Boulder, Colorado, 51 percent of tenth-graders failed to score at or above the proficient level on the TCAP math exam.
  • At Castle View High School in the city of Castle Rock, 51 percent of ninth-graders and 58 percent of tenth-graders failed to hit the proficiency mark on the TCAP math exam.

The results should cause middle-class parents to rethink their views on the quality of the neighborhood public school, and consequently to open their minds to other education options, choices, and policy changes that would allow their children to escape underperforming schools and attend better-performing alternatives. The study recommends that Colorado lawmakers consider school-choice options such as education savings accounts and tax-credit programs that have been enacted in other states.

Click to Find out How Your School Stacks Up


% Low-Income

The percentage of economically disadvantaged students in the school. The study only includes schools in which 33 percent or fewer of the students qualify for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

ELA Prof. < 50%/Math Prof. < 50%

The number of grades in the school in which 50 percent or less of students scored proficient (Level 3-Proficient) on the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) in English language arts/reading or math in 2014.

ELA % Prof./Math % Prof.

The percentage of students that scored proficient (Level 3-Proficient) or above on the TCAP in English language arts/reading or math in 2014.

Median Home Value

The median home value in the zip code in which the school is located.

Red Bar Indicates Schools that have One or More Grades with Proficiency Rates of 50% or Less on the 2014 TCAP.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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