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Fact Sheets

  • School and District Accountability
    This fact sheet provides an overview on the district and school performance frameworks, and the Unified Improvement Planning process.
    English (PDF) |  Spanish (PDF)
  • Colorado Growth Model (PDF)
    This fact sheet provides an easy-to-understand overview of the state's growth model.
  • Q&A About School and District Performance Frameworks (PDF)
    This Q&A provides easy-to-understand answers to high-level questions about the state's School and District Performance Frameworks and explains the general accountability system and school ratings.
  • Colorado’s Education Improvement Efforts “101" (PDF) 
    This fact sheet provides an overview, implementation progress and next steps for Colorado's Achievement Plan for Kids (Senate Bill 08-212), the Education Accountability Act (Senate Bill 09-163) and the Great Teachers and Leaders Act (Senate Bill 10-191).
  • Supporting Great Schools and Districts for All Students
    Learn about Colorado's accountability system consisting of relevant and rigorous standards, aligned and meaningful assessments, excellent teachers and school leaders, and high‐performing schools and districts.
    English (PDF)Spanish (PDF)

  • Overview of the 2016-17 ESEA Consolidated Application (PDF)
    Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funds are intended to assist districts achieve accelerated growth in those students most at-risk of not meeting academic standards.
  • Rural Education Council (PDF)
    With 80 percent of Colorado’s school districts recognized as rural, the Rural Education Council was created to support and advocate for the needs, concerns and particular challenges of rural school districts.
  • Turnaround Network (PDF)
    Uses a framework to support schools in developing a rigorous improvement plan that pushes on four research-based conditions: culture of performance; academic systems; talent and operations; and district support.
  • Colorado School Turnaround Network - 2017 Cohort Overview (PDF)
    Schools with a 2016 Priority Improvement or Turnaround Plan Type are eligible to apply for the 2017 Turnaround Network Cohort.  This document includes an network benefits and supports, results and application timeline. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Colorado education accountability system work?

Graphic of School Ratings/ District Accountability Ratings

Colorado’s education accountability system is based on the notion that every student should have an opportunity to receive an excellent education and graduate ready to succeed. Our system of evaluating and rating schools and districts helps educators and communities measure their achievements and meet this challenge. Ratings are determined through a three-tiered Performance Framework (defined below).

Successful schools and districts are recognized while those whose students struggle are identified for support and assigned a “Priority Improvement” or “Turnaround” rating. When these two lowest ratings are assigned to a school or district they are required to work with their communities to develop an improvement plan. Improvement plans can be in place for up to five years. If progress has not been made after five consecutive years, the schools or districts must take significant action.

Why is this important to my child’s academic success?

As a parent, you have a relationship to your child’s school and teachers. The ratings provide one way to evaluate how your child’s school and district are performing. This system provides specific information about academic performance of schools and districts with data that can be compared to other schools and districts around the state. It provides you with a consistent, yearly assessment of how schools and districts are doing based on the three-tiered Performance Framework. You can use this information to identify programs that best meet your child’s needs or work with the local schools and districts to improve areas with low performance.

How are ratings determined?

Every year, a detailed ratings report, called a Performance Framework, is created for each Colorado public school and district based on a variety of measures factored together:

  • Academic Achievement: Average scores on state assessments for all students and disaggregated groups.
  • Academic Growth: Progress students make in their achievement on assessments from one year to the next for all students and disaggregated groups.
  • Postsecondary readiness (high schools and districts only): How well students are prepared for college and the workforce – measured through graduation rates, dropout rates, matriculation rates and college entrance exam scores.

Where can I find my child’s school plan type and district ratings?

The information will be available in December 2017 on the Colorado Department of Education’s SchoolView website.  Click here for detailed instructions on accessing your school and district ratings.  

Who assigns the plan types/ratings and what is the timeline?

Preliminary ratings are assigned by the Colorado Department of Education in August.  Districts can pursue a change in their ratings through a request-to-reconsider process throughout the fall, and final ratings are assigned in December.

Districts: The education commissioner makes the final determination of accreditation ratings.

Schools: The commissioner recommends the plan type, but final decisions are made by the State Board of Education.

What happens when schools/districts receive persistent low ratings?

Schools and districts with persistent low ratings should be implementing research-based strategies to improve student outcomes. Schools and districts with the lowest two ratings (priority improvement and turnaround) for five or more years will receive specific direction from the Colorado State Board of Education for a pathway to pursue. Possible actions the board can direct include: school closure, turning a district-run school into a charter school, working with an external management partner, district reorganization (for the district only) and seeking “innovation status” for a school or network of schools that could provide needed flexibility from certain state and local rules. CDE seeks to work with districts to determine the pathway that has the greatest likelihood of increasing student performance.

How does low participation on assessments affect the ratings?

Students participate in assessments once a year. If a school has low participation in the assessment process it can impact the overall results for the school, so it is important to consider the participation rates on state assessments when reviewing the ratings.  To help you interpret the reports, a descriptor of “Low Participation” is added to school plan types and district ratings for those schools and districts with participation rates in two or more assessments that fall below 95 percent.  This includes students formally excused from tests by their parents. Because low participation can impact the overall results, it is important to consider the participation rates on state assessments when reviewing the ratings.

Some schools and districts had their ratings decreased due to low participation by students who did not receive formal excusals by their parents.  This is also noted on the framework report. According to a State Board of Education motion, schools and districts cannot be held liable for low participation from students who received formal parental excusals.

Some schools and districts also received a rating of “insufficient state data” because the number of students was too small or not representative of the entire population to use to describe the schools’ or districts’ performance. For more information on performance indicators and descriptors, an explainer is available here.

Why are average scores on assessments used to determine academic performance?

Academic performance, measured by average assessment scores, is just one factor in the how ratings are determined.

Instead of the option of using the percent of students scoring above the college and career readiness benchmark, average scores are used because they are most inclusive. The average score incorporates the performance of all students – including the very highest and very lowest performers on the assessment. Using the percent at benchmark does not recognize improvements for students who may be seriously behind.  And remember, average scores are never used alone to determine ratings.

  • Average scores are combined with growth, which measures how much students are progressing from year to year, to provide a more complete picture of a school and district’s performance.
  • High schools and districts are also measured on their graduation rates, dropout rates, college matriculation and college entrance scores.


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