Colorado School Districts Receive Latest Accreditation Rankings
Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes yesterday presented to the State Board of Education final accountability ratings for the state’s 178 school districts and BOCES, including four districts that improved enough to move off the state’s accountability clock.
No districts in Colorado earned the lowest ranking of “Turnaround.”
“We are pleased with the success around the state, which is the result of hard work by students, teachers and administrators,” Anthes said. “These ratings allow us to identify districts that need more state support and intervention, but also districts where we can learn from their success. While we are proud of the progress we are making, we know we still have a long way to go to meet the academic needs of many of our students.”
District ratings are based on a number of performance indicators, including student achievement and growth on state assessments as well as postsecondary readiness measures.
The commissioner determines final accreditation ratings for districts. The department will make recommendations on school ratings, but the state board determines their final ratings in December.
Districts received one of the following accreditation ratings:
Accredited with Distinction
Accredited with Improvement Plan
Accredited with Priority Improvement Plan
Accredited with Turnaround Plan
A total of 30 districts received the highest rating of “Distinction” and 90 received the second-highest rating of “Accredited.” Sixty-five percent of Colorado’s 184 districts and BOCES received the top two accreditation ratings. Zero school districts had the lowest rating of “Turnaround,” and only nine districts were on “Priority Improvement,” representing just 2.7 percent of all Colorado students.
In late August, districts received their preliminary ratings and had until Oct. 16 to submit additional evidence for the commissioner’s reconsideration. Twenty districts requested reconsideration, and a total of 15 districts had their ratings increased through the request to reconsider process and one additional approval is pending the school performance rating in December.
Nine districts/BOCES on Accountability Clock
A total of nine districts this year are on the state’s Accountability Clock, a designation that indicates when districts have received one of the lowest two ratings, Turnaround or Priority Improvement. This year, five districts entered Year 1 on the clock: East Otero R-1, South Conejos RE-10, Ignacio 11JT, Karval RE-23 and Englewood 1. One district is entering Year 2: Colorado Digital BOCES, and three districts are entering Year 7 on the clock: Adams County 14, Aguilar Reorganized 6 and Westminster 50.
Four districts on the Accountability Clock in 2016 improved enough to move off, including Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 and Julesburg RE-1 that had been in their sixth year and Huerfano RE-1 and Lake County R-1 that were both in their first year on the clock in 2016. Lake County moved up two levels this year from “Priority Improvement” to “Accredited.”
State law requires the State Board of Education to direct action for the local school boards of districts that are on the Accountability Clock for five consecutive years. Possible action can include school closure, turning a district-run school into a charter school, working with an external management partner, seeking “innovation status” for a school or network of schools that could provide waivers from certain state and local rules, or district reorganization.
This year, the State Board of Education required CDE to add a “Meets Participation” descriptor for districts and schools with a 95 percent participation rate. Eighty-nine district ratings included this descriptor this year. Additionally, for the second year, the accountability system included the descriptor of “Low Participation” for districts with lower than 95 percent participation rates on assessments in two or more content areas, including students formally excused from tests by their parents.
This descriptor is not a penalty but rather intended to alert parents and community members that state assessment results may not be completely representative of the district as a whole. Eighty-five districts received this descriptor. According to a State Board of Education motion, districts cannot be held liable for parental excusals.
However, five districts had their ratings lowered due to low participation (below 95 percent) by students who did not receive formal excusals by their parents. And six districts received the rating of “Insufficient State Data: Low Participation” because too few students tested to either report the data publicly or districts requested the rating through the request to reconsider process, based on the criteria that results were not representative of all students.