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News Release - State Board approves ratings for Colorado schools

Dec. 13, 2017

State board approves ratings for Colorado schools

88 percent of schools earned top two accountability ratings

DENVER – The vast majority of public schools received the highest two ratings in the state’s accountability system this year after approval Wednesday from the State Board of Education in its monthly meeting.
A total of 763,183 students, or 90 percent of the state’s public school students, are in the 1,523 schools that received Performance plan or Improvement plan ratings. A total of 88 percent of the state’s 1,728 public schools received those top ratings.
All schools annually receive a School Performance Framework report based on performance on various common indicators, including student achievement and growth on state tests and graduation, dropout and matriculation rates for high schools. The Education Accountability Act of 2009 requires an annual review of district and school performance. The accountability system is intended to provide a statewide comparison of student performance that highlights areas of success and areas for improvement.
Schools receive one of the following ratings, or plan type assignments:

  • Performance Plan: The school meets or exceeds statewide attainment on the performance indicators.
  • Improvement Plan: The school approaches or meets statewide attainment on the performance indicators.
  • Priority Improvement Plan: The school does not meet statewide attainment on the performance indicators.
  • Turnaround Plan: The school does not meet statewide attainment on the performance indicators.
  • Insufficient State Data: Low Participation: The school did not have enough data due to low participation to be able to report performance data, or the school had below 85 percent participation rate in two or more content areas, and the district requested an Insufficient State Data: Low Participation rating.

In total, 1,205 schools (69.7 percent) received the highest rating, Performance Plan, and 318 schools (18.3 percent) received the second-highest rating, Improvement Plan. A total of 120 schools (7 percent) received Priority Improvement Plan, 39 schools (2.3 percent) were assigned Turnaround Plan and 46 schools (2.7 percent) had Insufficient State Data due to low participation on state tests.
Colorado uses a supplemental performance framework for Alternative Education Campuses (AECs) to measure performance for the unique missions of these schools. AEC results showed an increase in the percent of schools with AEC Performance and AEC Improvement plans and only one AEC campus receiving an AEC Turnaround Plan rating.
About 87 percent of charter schools earned Performance or Improvement plans. Eighteen of the state’s  40 online schools (45 percent) received Performance or Improvement plans, compared to 88 percent of non-online schools.
The majority of all schools (66.6 percent or 1,131 schools) received the same plan type as they did in 2016. A total of 14.4 percent of schools (245 schools) improved by one or more plan type levels, while 14.5 percent of schools (242 schools) dropped one or more levels.

“I know how much hard work it takes by school leaders, teachers, parents and students to lift performance enough to come off the state’s accountability clock,” said Education Commissioner Katy Anthes.  “But this work is absolutely critical for students, so I’m very pleased to see that 98 schools came off the clock this year. As a department, we will increase our focus on supporting schools needing improvements, so more of them raise and maintain their students’ performance.”
Request to Reconsider Process
Districts requested reconsideration of plan types for a total of 145 schools. Staff at CDE recommended approval of 107 requests, partial approval for two schools and denial of 36 requests. A full summary of all of the requests and recommendations is posted on CDE’s website.
In order to help users interpret results, the descriptor of “Low Participation” is added to school plan types and district ratings for those schools and districts that had 95 percent or lower participation rates on assessments in two or more content areas. 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 results on the framework. The descriptor “Meets Participation” is added to school plan types and district ratings for those schools and districts that had at or above 95 percent participation rates on assessments in two or more content areas.
Thirty-two schools had their final ratings decreased due to accountability participation rates below 95 percent in two or more content areas. Those students did not receive formal excusals by their parents. 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.
Twenty-three schools received a rating of “insufficient state data: low participation” because the number of tested students was too small to complete the necessary accountability requirements or the data included did not necessarily represent all students in the school. And 525 schools received their plan ratings with a “low participation” description due to participation rates lower than 95 percent on two or more subject areas, including students with parental excusals.
Accountability Clock
Schools with the lowest two ratings of Priority Improvement and Turnaround go on the “Accountability Clock.” Those that are on the clock for more than five years receive specific direction from the State Board of Education for a pathway to pursue.
This year, 98 schools earned their way off of the “Accountability Clock” by earning a 2017 school plan type of Improvement or Performance. In 2010, 204 schools were identified for Priority Improvement or Turnaround school plans. Of those 204 schools, just nine remain on the Accountability Clock. Sixty-nine of those schools have earned their way off the clock and have stayed off. Seventy-six schools have been on and off the clock. And 45 of those schools were closed at one point.

A total of 17 schools that had entered Years 3 to Year 6 in July exited based on the 2017 rating, including three schools that had entered Year 6: Destinations Career Academy of Colorado (Julesburg RE-1), Franklin Middle School (Greeley 6) and Peakview School (Huerfano RE-1).
Two schools will enter Year 6 on the clock beginning July 1, 2018: Manaugh Elementary (Montezuma-Cortez) and Martinez Elementary (Greeley 6). The board must direct action for the local boards to take before June 30, 2018. Possible actions can include school closure, turning a district-run school into a charter school, working with an external management partner and seeking “innovation status” for a school or network of schools that could provide waivers from certain state and local rules.
Four schools will enter Year 5 on the clock beginning July 1, 2018: Minnequa Elementary (Pueblo 60), Central Elementary (Adams 14), Paris Elementary (Aurora), Kepner Middle (Denver). And one school is held at Year 5 with an Insufficient State Data: Low Participation Rating: EDCSD Colorado Cyber School (Douglas). If these schools remain on the clock next year,the state board will need to direct action for local boards to take before June 30, 2019.
A total of nine schools will enter Year 7 on the clock beginning on July 1, 2018: Risley International Academy of Innovation (Pueblo City 60), Aurora Central High (Adams-Arapahoe 28J), Aguilar Junior-Senior High (Aguilar Reorganized 6), Hope Online Learning Academy Middle (Douglas County RE 1), Hope Online Learning Academy Elementary (Douglas County RE 1),  Prairie Heights Middle (Greeley 6), Bessemer Elementary (Pueblo City 60), Heroes Middle (Pueblo City 60), Adams City High (Adams County 14). The State Board of Education directed action for the local boards of these nine schools to take in spring of 2017.
All schools and districts are required to submit an improvement plan annually. CDE reviews all Priority Improvement and Turnaround Plans. The plans include trends, root causes, targets, improvement strategies, resources, interim measures and implementation benchmarks. The 2017 school and district improvement plans will be posted in SchoolView.
For a complete list of district accreditation ratings and school plan types, visit the CDE's accountability website. (