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CDE Update

CDE Update Special Edition

Special Editions of the CDE Update

Read the latest: Feb. 23

CDE Update

About the CDE Update

Welcome to the CDE Update! This e-publication will show you what is happening in key priority areas at CDE and include details on implementation, milestones, deadlines and resources.

This online format allows you to view everything or filter by category and date and will be your go-to source for all Update information.

Vaccines, tests and masks for schools

To help schools maintain in-person learning, the State of Colorado is providing vaccines, at-home COVID-19 tests, and masks for educators and other staff.

For the most recent information about each of these programs, see the links below:

  • Vaccines will be available beginning Feb. 8 for educators and other staff who work with students. Read more (PDF).
  • COVID-19 tests are available for educators and other school staff working at districts, BOCES and charters that opt into the program. Read more.
  • KN95 and surgical masks for staff who work with students are being delivered to districts and BOCES that have opted in. Read more.

February 2021

Accountability, Performance and Support

What's Happening Now

Unified Improvement Winter Review Process

Thanks to the 150 schools and districts that submitted their Unified Improvement Plans for CDE review. The reviews are guided by the Unified Improvement Plan Quality Criteria, posted on the UIP resources webpage. Feedback will be made available through the UIP Online System in the Collaboration Tab as it becomes available in mid-March. 

UIP Timeline Transition

In shifting to an October 15 deadline for UIP submissions beginning in 2021, districts and schools may want to revise internal calendars by this spring, as there are implications for use of data and engagement with district and school accountability committees. CDE has drafted guidance on this transition and should be releasing it by early February. Further resources to support the UIP timeline shift will be released through the spring and shared through The Scoop, CDE's weekly e-newsletter to superintendents and district staff.

Please also note that the State Board of Education is considering making the April 2021 UIP submission optional in response to the COVID-19 Stakeholder Implications Policy Group’s recommendation. Through an expedited process, the state board is expected to vote on the April submission flexibility by the March 10-11 meeting. 

What's on the Horizon

Watch for more information in next month's Update.

Important Upcoming Deadlines

March 10: Alternative Education Campus Application/Renewal Collection opens. Contact B Sanders at for more information.

More Information

For more information, contact Rhonda Haniford, associate commissioner of School Quality and Support,


What's Happening Now

ACCESS for English Language Learners 2021 Assessment Window

The ACCESS for English Language Learners (ELLs) testing window is currently open and is scheduled to close on Friday, March 12. ACCESS testing should be conducted when and if state and local health guidelines, as well as district policies and practices for COVID-19 allow students and staff to be in school buildings. All processes must follow health orders for gathering safely. Students and staff will not be asked to come into the building to test if it conflicts with state and local health orders. Families of students receiving remote instruction should be reassured that their health needs will be respected and that no negative consequences will be imposed if they choose not to send their students in to the school building to test.

Assessment Administration Preparation Activities

Before spring testing, district assessment coordinators (DACs) and district technology coordinators (DTCs) should refer to the information provided during training sessions, documented in manuals and communicated by CDE to ensure that districts are prepared for administration.

An office hours schedule has been provided to DACs to assist them as they prepare for state assessment administration. DACs and DTCs should contact the appropriate Assessment Unit specialist with any questions.

Upcoming College Board Important Dates and Registration Windows

Optional SAT Essay student registration window

House Bill 15-1323 provides 11th grade public school students with the opportunity to take the optional SAT essay at state expense this spring. Students choosing to take the SAT with optional essay will do so on the school test date, Tuesday, April 13, or on one of the make-up dates, Tuesday, April 27, and Tuesday, May 18.

Adding the optional essay to the SAT exam is a student choice and schools and districts cannot make policy decisions that would either encourage or discourage student participation in the SAT essay. Students who want to take the SAT essay will need to add it to their school-day registration using their College Board online account no later than Tuesday, Feb. 16.

College Board has provided specific directions for schools to share with students who want to add the optional essay to their registration. Schools should ensure that students know how to set up their free online College Board accounts. A variety of student planning resources, including the link to create or log in to their College Board account, can be found on

College Board approved accommodation requests

College Board approved accommodations are designed for students with documented disabilities and must be approved in advance by the College Board. The review process has been simplified in recent years to require less documentation and provide faster approval for students with IEP or 504 plans. Students who are approved for accommodations by the College Board will receive college- and scholarship-reportable scores. Once approved for accommodations, with limited exceptions, a student remains approved for all College Board tests. College Board approved accommodation requests must be submitted through College Board’s online system by Monday, Feb. 22.

Extended Time Requests for English Learners

English Learners are students currently identified as Non-English Proficient (NEP) and Limited English Proficient (LEP). These students are eligible for 50% extended time testing on the PSAT and SAT.  English learners who test with this accommodation will receive college- and scholarship-reportable scores on the state administration of the exam. English Learner extended time requests must be submitted through College Board’s online system by Friday, March 5.

SAT Vouchers for High School Students in Online Schools

Vouchers for students who need to take the national SAT on Saturday, March 13, in place of the April school day administration were sent to Colorado public online high schools in December. As a reminder, students are only eligible to use a voucher for the March 13 national SAT test date if they are an 11th grade student attending a public school in Colorado and meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Attend an online school full-time which is unable to establish a secure testing site; or
  2. Is unable to take the college entrance exam on either of the department-designated school dates due to religious holidays; or
  3. Is unable to take the college entrance exam on either of the department-designated school dates due to conflicts with legitimate instructional, curricular, or other activities, as determined by CDE.

To use the voucher, students will register for the SAT via their College Board online student account. The voucher can be used to register for the SAT or for the SAT with essay and is valid only for the March 13 national test date. Students must have a College Board online account in order to register. The deadline for students to register for the national SAT using a voucher is Friday, Feb. 12.  All schools, including online schools, are required to establish testing centers for the PSAT in grades nine and ten.

What's on the Horizon

CMAS/CoAlt window extended

CDE has received many questions and concerns from districts, educators and parents about state assessments this spring. Any changes to state or federal laws requiring assessments are not likely to come before late February, given the timelines for the state legislative session and the timing of the confirmation of the new Secretary of Education.

At this point, we encourage districts to continue to plan to provide the CMAS, PSAT, SAT and CoAlt assessments this spring as health conditions allow, including to their students who are receiving their instruction remotely. With that said, families of students receiving remote instruction should be reassured that their health needs will be respected and that no negative consequences will be imposed if they choose not to send their students in to the school building to test.

The CMAS and corresponding CoAlt official testing windows have been extended through Friday, May 14. Please note, this change in testing dates is expected to impact the return of results to schools and districts, which typically happens in June. CDE will provide district assessment coordinators with expected reporting dates when they are available.

CMAS/CoAlt official testing windows will take place April 12 – May 14. The earliest start date for the expanded window for online math and English language arts continues to be Monday, March 22.

The department will continue to monitor assessment requirements as COVID-19 responses evolve across the state and country, and may announce additional adjustments to state assessment expectations accordingly. 

Important Upcoming Deadlines

Now through March 5: ACCESS for ELLs additional materials order window open.

Now through March 12: ACCESS for ELLs testing window

Feb. 12: Deadline for online students to register for the March 14 national SAT using a voucher.

Feb. 22: Window for 11th grade students to add the optional essay to their SAT school day administration registration closes at 9:59 p.m. MST. Students may register for the optional essay through their College Board online student account.

Starting March 1: Districts finalize CMAS computer-based test preparation activities before testing.

More Information

For more information, contact Joyce Zurkowski, chief assessment officer,, or visit

Educator Talent

What's Happening Now

State board approves updates to Educator Licensure Rules

On Jan. 13, the State Board of Education approved changes to the Rules for the Administration of the Educator Licensing Act of 1991, 1 CCR 301-37, to include technical changes, amendments to include legislated professional development requirements for renewal of professional educator licenses and an update to the Adult Basic Education certification process to align with Colorado Community College standards, and proposed changes to licensure disciplinary notification requirements and processes.

Visit the Educator Talent Policy Updates webpage for more information.

Substitute Boot Camp

As part of its campaign to help districts recruit substitute teachers, CDE is offering Substitute Boot Camp sessions. These are free, virtual seminars designed to support, assist and encourage substitute teachers with their first day on the job. Participants will learn about their roles and responsibilities as a substitute teacher, including ​preparing lesson plans, classroom management and school policy and emergency response. We encourage district and school leaders to share this with their communities and anyone who may be interested in becoming a substitute teacher.

Substitute Boot Camps are scheduled through April. Visit the Become a Substitute/Guest Teacher webpage for additional information, including dates and registration details.

What's on the Horizon

Watch for more information in next month's Update.

Important Upcoming Deadlines

Watch for more information in next month's Update.

More Information

For more information, contact Colleen O'Neil, associate commissioner of Educator Talent, at, or visit


What's Happening Now

ESSER II Application

CDE is in the process of developing an application for applying for ESSER II funds. The application will be released as quickly as possible and will remain open until Thursday, Sept. 30, to allow districts to plan the use of ESSER II funds. CDE recommends drawing down ESSER I funds prior to applying. Allocations are posted on the CDE website (PDF). An announcement will be sent out via the CDE Update when the application is available. 

ESSER I Application Post Award

The ESSER I application closed on Dec. 31, 2020, and a large number of applications came in on the deadline. ESSER Review Teams are working diligently to review and provide comments and/or final approval as quickly as possible. However, due to the number of applications received, the holidays, office closures and state-mandated furlough days, the turnaround time will be longer than expected. 

The ESSER Post Award Revision system will remain available until the end of the grant period to any district that has received final approval and has identified a need to make changes to its application for use of any ESSER funds or budget supplemental ESSER funds that were allocated after receiving final approval in the original allocation. Districts can log back into the platform to submit changes, edit budget line items, budget supplemental ESSER funds, add the justification for the revision and submit the application to CDE for review and approval.

All changes to budget line items must still meet the purpose and intent of ESSER funds, which are to prepare for, respond to, or prevent the spread of the COVID-19, and must be allowable, reasonable, necessary and allocable in order to be approved. For questions regarding ESSER funding or the revision process, email

Weekly Office Hours 

CDE will continue to provide technical assistance and support on both ESSER I and II during Thursday Office Hours from 1 to 2 p.m. If you would like to attend, please email Emily Owen to request to be added to the listserv for the weekly invitations.  

Consolidated Application

The Post-Award Revision process is now open. The Post Award Revision (PAR) process is an opportunity for LEAs and BOCES to adjust/revise the activities and budget that were approved in the initial consolidated application review process and include additional activities that require pre-approval based on local context and funding availability.

Questions about submitting a PAR can be sent to the ESEA Regional Contact assigned to your district/BOCES.

What's on the Horizon

Watch for more information in next month's Update.

Important Upcoming Deadlines

Watch for more information in next month's Update.

More Information

For more information on Federal Programs, contact Mark Kirkemier, executive director, at, or visit

Organizational Effectiveness

What's Happening Now

Data sharing agreement

Because of the public health emergency, CDE has been assisting CDPHE in its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to reduce the reporting burden on schools and districts. CDE agreed to provide a minimal amount of student data to CDPHE as permitted under FERPA’s exception for a public health emergency. CDE and CDPHE executed a data sharing agreement with support from the Attorney General’s Office. The shared data enables CDPHE to match a student’s school district and school of attendance with public health data that CDPHE gets from other sources in order to understand and limit COVID spread. 

Under the agreement, CDPHE will limit the employees with access to CDE data to a small set of named individuals, and they will not publicly redisclose any student PII for any reason. The only portion of the data eligible for redisclosure is the school and/or district of attendance associated with actual or suspected COVID-19 cases which may be shared with local public health agencies for purposes of COVID-19 contact tracing, monitoring and containment.  Note that CDPHE and local public health agencies are subject to several confidentiality and data security laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the criminal penalty provided by § 25-1-122 C.R.S., while under their stewardship, the limited data CDE is sharing are well protected.

The DSA is available to the public here. CDE’s website also has more information about its data privacy and security policies and contracts for the sharing of Personally Identifiable Information. 

Contact Marcia Bohannon at for more information about this data sharing agreement.

Special Education December Count 

Administrative Units will be notified of their duplicates by Thursday, Feb. 4, and must have duplicates resolved by Thursday, Feb. 11. The final report review week will wrap up Thursday, Feb.18, when finalized snapshots and all required reports should be signed and uploaded to the Data Management System.

Human Resources  

All errors in the staff interchange files and Human Resources snapshot should be resolved by Friday, Feb. 12, providing adequate time to review reports for accuracy. The Educator Shortage Survey must be completed for the Human Resources snapshot to be error-free. 

The collection and Educator Shortage Survey will both close on Friday, Feb. 26. This is the date by which districts are required to have their snapshot error-free and finalized. 


  • The four-day school week application for 2021-22 will open on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
  • Districts may also request school code changes for the 2021-22 school year. These requests must be made by June 30.

Student End of Year 

The 2020-21 End of Year snapshot will enter a soft open phase beginning Thursday, Feb. 25. Business rules and documentation will continue to be updated through the spring.

What's on the Horizon

Teacher Student Data Link  

The teacher-student data link (TSDL) interchange file is open as well as the teacher-student data link snapshot. There is only one interchange file to be uploaded as the collection has been re-designed. The statewide standard course code (SSCC) system is no longer being used. Instead, all data will be uploaded as part of the one interchange file. 

For the 2020-21 school year, all districts are required to report TSDL data for students in grades 6-12 only. With this school year being a reportable Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) year, it is advised to also report all computer science courses as well for the 6th-12th grade students as this subject is required for the CRDC file. 

Additionally, all courses are required to be reported for 8th-12th grade migrant students. The TSDL snapshot is currently open and due Aug. 13.

Designated Agency

The 2020-21 Designated Agency data collection is now open in the Data Pipeline to enter 2020-21 candidates until Aug. 31.

Collections opening in March

Report Card March, the Alternative Education Campus (AEC) Application/ Renewal Collection and the AEC Planned Measures Collections will all open next month. 

Due to the extension of the ACCESS for ELLs test window, the ACCESS SBD review window, which was tentatively planned for mid- to late-March, will most likely occur in April instead.

Important Upcoming Deadlines

Feb. 18:  Special Education December Count final due date

Feb. 26:  Human Resources collection close date

More Information

For more information on data pipeline, contact Jan Petro, director of data services, or visit

Teaching and Learning

What's Happening Now

Colorado READ Act and district unified improvement plans

The READ Act requires local education providers in Colorado to use instructional programs in reading that are evidence- and scientifically based and that focus on reading competency in the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency including oral skills, and reading comprehension -- regardless of funding source.

There has been confusion regarding the use of programs from CDE’s Advisory List of Instructional Programs. LEPs that use READ per pupil intervention funds or early literacy grant funds to purchase reading instructional programs must use programs from CDE’s advisory list. If LEPs are using other funding sources, they may select other evidence- and scientifically based programs as long as they meet the statutory requirements within the READ Act.

The 2020-21 school year is the first year that LEPs will provide information regarding the instructional programs and intervention services to CDE through their UIPs. CDE will review the reading instructional program information submitted through UIPs and will work with LEPs with programs that do not meet statutory requirements to help bring the programs into compliance with the READ Act.

For more information on the READ Act requirements in district unified improvement plans, visit the UIP READ Act webpage. For questions concerning the Colorado READ Act, contact Anji Gallanos at

What's on the Horizon

Watch for more information in next month's Update.

Important Upcoming Deadlines

Watch for more information in next month's Update.

More Information

For more information, contact Floyd Cobb, executive director, at