During a Sept. 16 town hall event, Colorado Springs School District 11 Board Vice President Jason Jorgenson touted the district’s academic improvement.

“We went from 158th in the state to 79th in the state — and that’s out of 179 districts,” said Jorgenson. “We jumped halfway up the state rankings in one year. Before you asked about what we can attribute that to. We really had a kind of immense focus on ‘best first’ instruction, quality neighborhood schools and putting, as Mr. [Michael] Gaal [D11 Superintendent] would say, wraparound resources into the classrooms that need it.”

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE), the agency that evaluates the performance of Colorado school districts, did not provide those statistics. “The state doesn’t have a ranking system,” said a CDE spokesperson in an email. “The state has an accountability system. Within that system is something called the District Performance Framework. Districts are assigned ratings based on achievement and growth on state assessments, along with such postsecondary measures as graduation rates, drop-out rates, college entrance exams and college matriculation rates. We have not produced final ratings. Districts were provided preliminary ratings in late August. Final ratings will be made later in the year.”

According to Parth Melpakam, D11’s board president, the district based those statistics on their own evaluation of state data and reporting from the Colorado Springs Gazette.

“There are several different data points that indicate that District 11 demonstrated strong performance in the recent CMAS State Assessments,” said Melpakam in an email. “Here is a summary:

“Of 17 school districts in El Paso County, two showed improvements in English and math. D11 was one of them. 

“A year ago, 15 [D11] schools were on the state watchlist, categorized as “priority improvement” or “turnaround” schools. Today, that list has been reduced to eight. 

“Five of those schools were considered turnaround schools, the lowest category the state identifies. Today, every one of those schools has moved up at least one level. 

“The number of schools in Performance, the highest category the state identifies, increased from 18 in 2022 to 29 in 2023.

“Two years ago, coming out of the pandemic, D11 ranked 158th out of 178 school districts in Colorado, in the percentage of students that met or exceeded expectations in grade level proficiency in English and Math. Today, we rank 79th, a giant leap in the right direction (Gazette Analysis). 

“CDE makes publicly available the percentage of students in every district that read and do math at or above grade level.  Placing these percentages in rank order is a simple task and shows that D11 is 79th.  Various sources have confirmed to us that they read the data the same way we do, including the Gazette in their data analysis and [Republican] CD5 State Board of Education representative Mr. Steve Durham.”