Colorado is a state that heavily prioritizes education. Studies often name Colorado as one of the most highly educated states with a large percentage of its residents holding bachelor’s degrees. As with any school system, however, some districts within Colorado are facing struggles, with students testing poorly and showing overall low performance. This is where the role of education advocacy is so important: students should all have access to tools to help them succeed because when students do not succeed, the state does not either. Every state should have a vested interest in making sure their children are given not only the best education, but that they are able to connect to resources that can help them get the most out of their time in school. Education leaders throughout Colorado have been making it their mission to help under performing schools turn around and create programs that will help students succeed and overall testing improve. This is all based on what is known colloquially as the Colorado’s “accountability clock” which is a term that refers to the amount of a low performing school has to make improvements before further action must be taken. Eight years ago, Senate Bill 163 was passed in Colorado which added to existing accountability legislation. This legislation creates measurements to rate school districts and individual schools based on quality and steps in if schools are not performing well. For a few school districts in Colorado, they are facing hearings that come when the accountability clock time has nearly run out.
Those involved in the hearings have committed to reviewing each school or school district on a case by case basis and make determinations based on what would actually be helpful for the school, school district, state or the students it serves. The hearings take a close look at the ratings that schools or school districts have earned. For schools, there are four possible ratings ranging from highest to lowest: performance, improvement, priority improvement and turnaround. For school districts, one more ranking is added to the list so districts can receive a rank of distinction, performance, improvement, priority improvement or turnaround. These scores are calculated on a few different factors including math and English standardized testing as well as college entrance exams, particularly in high schools.
For schools who score low, the accountability clock starts, which generally gives schools five years to improve. After five years, if scores have not improved, hearings are held to determine what should be done with the school including options such as closing it, hiring third party companies to help run the school, or perhaps transitioning the school to a charter management company.
Any kind of work that has to do with education advocacy is extremely sensitive and tough because it deals with Colorado’s kids. Colorado Succeeds wants the best for all children and it is highly important to Coloradan’s that their schools are superior and that their children have access to high quality education and resources and tools to help them succeed and grow throughout their educational journey.