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News Release - Fourteen School Districts "Accredited With Distinction"

Nov. 30, 2010

News Release

Fourteen School Districts “Accredited With Distinction;” Commissioner Dwight D. Jones Announces All Accreditation Ratings Under New Education Accountability Act

Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones today announced accreditation ratings for all school districts in the state under the first implementation cycle of the Education Accountability Act of 2009.

The new accreditation process establishes an expanded set of indicators that places value on academic growth and success in preparing students for college and career readiness. The process was launched by Senate Bill 09-163 and emphasizes outcomes that matter most for students. As a result, it highlights those districts that are making a positive difference for students.

In all, 111 of the state’s school districts (61 percent in all) were rated as “Accredited with Distinction” or “Accredited.”

Fourteen districts were given the higher rating, “Accredited with Distinction,” and 97 were rated as “Accredited.”

The 14 districts “Accredited with Distinction” are Academy School District 20, Aspen School District 1, Cheyenne Mountain School District 12, Expeditionary BOCES (Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning), Hinsdale County School District RE-1, Kiowa County School District C-2; Lewis-Palmer School District 38, Littleton Public Schools, Ouray School District R-1, Plateau School District RE-5, Prairie School District RE-11, Ridgway School District R-2, Steamboat Springs School District RE-2 and Telluride School District.

“The majority of Colorado school districts provide high-quality learning opportunities for students and these results bear out that fact,” said Colorado State Board of Education Chairman Bob Schaffer. “Congratulations to these districts that are accredited with distinction and are setting a high bar for performance and delivering on the promise to students.”

Added Colorado Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones: “The new approach to accreditation also spotlights districts where work is needed and the law gives the state a key role in this work. The department will begin collaborating with theses districts and their communities on setting the right course of action to identify and put into place the needed changes.”

For a complete list of district accreditation ratings, visit this link:

http://www.schoolview.org/PerformanceFrameworks.asp

The evaluations are based on four performance indicators—academic achievement; academic growth; gaps in growth levels for a variety of historically disadvantaged subgroups; and success in preparing students for postsecondary and workforce readiness (based on dropout rates, graduation rates and scores on the ACT college entrance exam). In some cases, the final assignment is based on additional data provided by the school district.

After “Accredited with Distinction,” “Accredited,” and “Accredited with Improvement Plan,” the remaining accreditation categories each come with an increased level of state oversight and support. Those categories are: “Accredited with Priority Improvement Plan” and “Accredited with Turnaround Plan.”

For more detail on each accreditation level and the implications, visit the “Accountability Alignment” overview on this CDE Web page:

http://www2.cde.state.co.us/scripts/reforms/detail.asp?itemid=623952

District Accreditation Of Their Schools & School Plan Types

The Colorado State Board of Education took the first formal step in implementing the new Education Accountability Act of 2009 on Nov. 3, 2010 when it assigned public schools to one of four categories that determine the type of improvement plan—based on a thorough performance evaluation—that schools will be required to write and enact.

The action placed each school in one of four groups of schools. Schools in each group will develop an improvement plan tailored for their needs. The four types of plans to be developed are “performance,” “improvement,” “priority improvement” and “turnaround.” All schools will develop an annual improvement plan with measurable goals for student success.

Schools are placed in groups based on a common framework for evaluating their performance. The vast majority of school districts in the state agreed to the initial school improvement plan type determined by the state.

Districts are required to accredit their own schools, in some cases using a performance framework that may be similar to the state methodology. A majority of the district’s accreditation levels for schools is consistent with the results from the state process.

The state evaluations, following the same general model as district accreditation are based on four performance indicators—academic achievement; academic growth; gaps in growth rates for a variety of subgroups such as income, ethnicity, native language, students with Individual Education Plans and students below grade level; and success in preparing students for postsecondary and workforce readiness (based on dropout rates, graduation rates and scores on college-entrance exams). In some cases, the assigned group is based on additional data and evidence provided by the school district.

Out of 2,080 Colorado school plan assignments to date, 99 school levels have not received determinations for school plan type and are pending data review. Initial school plan types for these 99 school levels will be resolved following a final review by Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones.

Next Steps

The Colorado State Board of Education is scheduled to determine 99 remaining school “plan types” on Monday, Dec. 6. Refer to the Nov. 3, 2010, news release about approval of plan type assignments for schools: http://www.cde.state.co.us/communications/Releases/20101103spf.html

In January 2011, districts are required to submit district and school “priority improvement” and “turnaround” improvement plans, along with other plans required by the federal accountability system, to the Colorado Department of Education for review and feedback.

If any changes to turnaround plans are requested by the state, the revised plans will be due in March 2011. All district and school improvement plans submitted by districts will be published on SchoolView (www.schoolview.org), the department’s online portal for school accountability information.

Celebration Event—Thursday, Dec. 9

The Colorado Department of Education will recognize school districts rated as “Accredited with Distinction” at Thursday, Dec. 9, at 10 a.m. The event will be held in the main lobby at CDE, 201 E. Colfax Ave., in Denver, and it is scheduled to include Gov. Bill Ritter, State Board of Education Vice-Chair Randy DeHoff, Commissioner Jones and Associate Commissioner Richard Wenning.

The event will also include recognition of the 2010 “Centers of Excellence.” These are schools that enroll a student population at least 75 percent at-risk (as measured by free- and reduced-price lunch eligibility, a common measure of poverty) and that demonstrate the highest rates of student longitudinal growth as measured by the Colorado Growth Model. This award program was established by the Education Accountability Act of 2009.

Note

The accreditation system applies ratings to 178 school districts plus the Charter School Institute, the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind and three Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). In all, 183 school districts and related school organizations are given accreditation ratings.

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