State Board of Education Considers Federal-State Policy Conflicts

At its monthly meeting held this week in the eastern Colorado town of Burlington, the Colorado State Board of Education considered options for reconciling a conflict between state policies and federal education laws regarding how to handle participation on state assessments for the purposes of school accountability.

The U.S. Department of Education in August reviewed the state’s plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), flagging a discrepancy between the federal law and state policy. In Colorado, students whose parents choose to excuse them from the state assessments are not considered part of the total number of test-takers when looking at the achievement results.

However, federal law says those students should be given a score of zero and counted when calculating the school’s academic achievement. Achievement scores are a component of the data used to determine which schools should receive additional federal funds for help and are required to develop improvement plans.

The ESSA stakeholder group focused on accountability will meet September 21 to discuss and provide feedback on the matter. The state board will consider the feedback and then provide direction on the issue next month.

Graduation guidelines’ background, recommendations and policies discussed
The board considered recommendations for updates to Colorado’s graduation guidelines. The recommendations were developed by a work group convened to review and recommend revisions following the board’s September 2015 request to have the guidelines reviewed every two years. The board is expected to vote on the recommendations at a future meeting.

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