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News Release - State Board of Education considers feedback and priorities for allocating federal COVID-relief funds

Aug. 12, 2021

State Board of Education considers feedback and priorities for allocating federal COVID-relief funds

DENVER -- The State Board of Education at its two-day meeting on Wednesday and Thursday considered feedback from educators, students, parents and community members as well as school and district leaders and other education stakeholders on how the state should invest federal COVID-relief funds for education. 

The board also considered the results of statewide assessments administered last spring as it discussed different strategies on how to support students who have been most impacted by the pandemic.  Education Commissioner Katy Anthes recommended the board prioritize strategies that support educator workforce development and accelerate academic recovery -- especially in the areas of English language acquisition, math and early literacy for impacted populations. 

The staff’s full presentation on the feedback received and considerations for prioritizing the use of the federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief funds is available on the CDE website.

The board will continue deliberating and vote during its special meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 24, on how to allocate $132 million in federal ESSER funding to most effectively support students. The board’s decisions will be incorporated into Colorado’s ESSER plan due to the U.S. Department of Education on Aug. 31.

Board hears successes, challenges of READ Act by independent evaluator

The board heard a presentation by an independent evaluator required by legislation to examine the implementation of the READ Act – the state’s initiative to improve early literacy. WestEd conducted the first year of a multi-year evaluation process over the last year, finding successes and challenges in the implementation of the READ Act and suggesting recommendations.

On the successes, WestEd said the learning materials approved by CDE met the standards of the READ Act and veteran educators interviewed say the READ Act has led to a significant increase in the amount of classroom time spent on reading. Additionally, the findings showed that the state’s Early Literacy Grants have been “transformational in changing how schools approach K-3 literacy instruction.”

However, the review found more approved materials are needed for English language learners and students with disabilities.  Additionally, the survey found that teachers lacked adequate training in the five core elements of literacy instruction and there were challenges for schools using previously approved instructional programs that no longer were on the advisory lists.

WestEd recommended continuing to examine policy and program alignment across CDE programs that impact K-3 reading instruction, convening a panel to address questions around growth to standard and studying best practices in addressing literacy needs of English learners and in professional development for teachers.

New rules allow reconsideration of 2021 performance ratings for schools and districts

The board approved the Rules for Administration of Statewide Accountability Measures for the Colorado Public School System, Charter School Institute, Public School Districts and Public Schools. Amendments to the rules create a process that allows schools and districts with priority improvement and turnaround ratings to ask for reconsideration of their 2021 plan types based on state and local assessment results, a review of the Unified Improvement Plan, and a State Review Panel site visit, as allowed for in House Bill 21-1161.

Board approves CDE's 2022-23 budget submission to the legislature

The board approved requests for additional funding in the 2022-23 fiscal year for the Department of Education. The requests will be submitted to the Joint Budget Committee for the legislature’s consideration in the 2022 session. 

The board requested staff ask for space in one of the legislative buildings to accommodate board meetings when the board expands to nine members in 2023. Colorado is getting a new congressional district that will result in an additional state board member and an at-large member. If the legislature is unable to provide space, CDE will request $1.8 million for construction costs associated with expanding the State Board Room and approximately $110,000 in ongoing operating costs to improve security and accommodate the nine-member board. 

The board approved CDE’s request for an increase up to $1.3 million in operating costs associated with the significant growth of department staff and responsibilities over the last 17 years. The request would increase staff capacity in human resources, information technology, payroll, procurement and other support services.

In other actions, the board:

Notices of Rulemaking

The board approved the following notices of rulemaking. Hearings for each of the following are anticipated to be held at the board’s October meeting.