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News Release - State Board Approves Attributes for New Assessment System

Dec. 7, 2010

News Release

Colorado State Board of Education Approves Attributes For Colorado’s New Assessment System

The Colorado State Board of Education this week adopted attributes for the state’s new assessment system, a step that establishes the key features of what will ultimately replace the Colorado Student Assessment Program.

The attributes complete the assessment design and complement the assessment architecture jointly adopted by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the Colorado State Board of Education on Monday, Nov. 29.

The Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids (CAP4K, launched by Senate Bill 08-212) required creation of a new state testing system and required the two boards to adopt the assessment attributes by Dec. 15, 2010.

“The action today follows a statewide conversation that gathered a wide variety of views about how the new assessment system can best serve the needs of students, teachers, schools and districts,” said State Board of Education Chairman Bob Schaffer. “We appreciate the input from educators and community members as well as the advice from our advisory committees. We are now on the road to introducing a new test to gauge how well students are grasping the new academic standards. We look forward to seeing the new assessment system come to life.”

As adopted by the state board, the vision statement for the attributes of the new assessment system states that the new Colorado assessment system “will signal mastery of Colorado Academic Standards at grade level. As the Colorado Academic Standards reflect both knowledge and application of skills as expressed in the description of postsecondary and workforce readiness (PWR), the new assessment system will also measure progress toward PWR. It will be designed to produce meaningful results which will be both easy to understand and applicable to students, parents and educators.

“Ongoing feedback, student relevance and interim results each represent a unified approach to the role of assessment in high‐quality instruction. The new assessment system will inform instruction and provide early feedback, which will also help to reduce remediation.

“Over time (and where appropriate) the assessments will be given online, in order to accommodate the timely return of results. Voluntary formative practices and aligned interim benchmark assessments may be provided by the state. The summative assessments, given by the state as the state record and for accountability, will be given as late in the school year as possible to allow for more instruction and results will be made available prior to the end of the school year.”

The attributes call for a new assessment system that includes:

  • Formative ongoing systematic feedback protocols at every grade for students and educators to use.
  • Interim benchmark measurements at each grade for students and educators to use.
  • Continued assessments in preschool through second grade for educators to use.
  • Summative end-of-year measurements at every grade (three through 11) for state results.
  • Individual Career Advancement Plans in grades eight through 12 for students and educators to use.
  • A nationally recognized college admissions assessment in grade 11 for students and educators to use.
  • State summative results will measure at least mathematics and English Language Arts in grades three through 11.
  • Science and social studies will be measured at least once each in elementary, middle and high school.

The complete six-page list of attributes is posted on the CDE Web site here:

100 Remaining School Improvement Plan Types Approved

The Colorado State Board of Education today completed a major task in the implementation of the new Education Accountability Act of 2009 as it approved improvement plan types for a final batch of 100 school levels. In November, the board approved school improvement plan types for 1,981 school levels. (Note: Some schools are home to a combination of grade levels and thus receive more than one plan type assignment.)

With the determination of final state improvement plan assignments, schools will now be required to write and implement an improvement plan tailored to their particular strengths and needs. The four types of improvement plans to be developed are “performance,” “improvement,” “priority improvement” and “turnaround.” Under the Education Accountability Act of 2009, all schools must develop an annual improvement plan with measurable goals for student success.

Schools were assigned their improvement plans based on a thorough evaluation of their students’ academic performance.

The evaluations are based on a performance framework that focuses on four key 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 testing 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).

Richard Wenning, associate commissioner for performance and policy at the Colorado Department of Education, told the state board that the 100 school levels in the final batch were there for two reasons.

One group of 64 school levels (53 distinct schools) required additional district data before finalizing a plan type.

The remaining 36 school levels (27 distinct schools) requested that the department reconsider the plan type and review additional information before making a final determination. Twenty-one of the 36 requests to reconsider were approved by Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones, said Wenning, and seven were denied. Districts withdrew their request for the eight remaining school levels.

State Board Vice-Chair Randy DeHoff lauded the department’s staff for its hard work. “We don’t want to make exceptions that undermine the whole system, but we also don’t want to hold to the letter of the law so that we lose all credibility,” he said. There were some “tough calls,” he said, but “my commendations to CDE for a tremendous amount of work.

State Board Member Angelika Schroeder urged staff to gather feedback from districts on how the process is working. “This provides a greater level of transparency,” she said. “Nevertheless, I’m wondering if we have some capacity to get feedback from superintendents. Can we improve it? Can we make it more understandable to folks?”

Commissioner Jones said the new accountability system represents a significant departure from the previous approach. “I continue to believe it is a much better accountability system. It is much fairer and takes into account the uniqueness of students and where they start academically.”

He called the conversations around the state accountability system “healthy and just right.”

For a complete list of school designations and supporting material, follow this link:

The Web page includes a section marked “Status of District Accreditation Categories and School Plan Assignments.” Look for a complete spreadsheet listing school plan designations, a summary of the designations and a PowerPoint overview used in the presentation to the state board.

(Note: A previous news release on Nov. 3 stated that 99 plan types were pending state board approval. That was an error; the correct number was 100.)

Search Firm Selected

In a separate meeting later in the afternoon, the Colorado State Board of Education selected Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to conduct its search for a new commissioner, to replace outgoing Commissioner Jones. Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates is based in Illinois.

Board Formally Recognizes Outgoing Vice-Chair Randy DeHoff, Board Member Peggy Littleton, Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones

The Colorado State Board of Education formally recognized two of its departing members and also commended Dwight D. Jones for his “outstanding service” as commissioner.

State Board Vice-Chair Randy DeHoff, who served two full terms on the board and could not run for re-election, was recognized by formal resolution for making “an invaluable contribution to education in Colorado, focusing on the instruction of math and science and serving on many boards and committees as an expert in these areas.”

The resolution recognized for DeHoff for equally emphasizing “the importance of instruction in the arts, particularly the importance of music in curriculum” and also for being a “strong advocate for 21st Century Learning, moving away from the concept of ‘seat time’ and towards the utilization of online instruction and technology.”

The resolution also recognized DeHoff for serving as a strong advocate for charter schools and for his service on the Board of Directors for the National Association of State Boards of Education.

State board member Peggy Littleton, who has served on the state board of education since February of 2004, was recognized for her focus “on the importance of literacy” and for serving on many boards and committees to direct the department’s work on literacy-related issues.

“She has made the use of data-driven and differentiated instruction in the classroom a priority,” the resolution states. “She has seen the needs of children of military personnel and the unique educational challenges they face of central importance.”

Both DeHoff and Littleton were recognized for supporting the long-term and ongoing efforts to implement Colorado’s education reform agenda, including, among other elements, the development of the state longitudinal data system and the adoption of the Colorado Academic Standards. Both were also recognized for selecting Dwight D. Jones as commissioner in 2007.

The board’s formal resolution states that Commissioner Jones “has initiated actions that have helped place Colorado in the forefront of education reform.”

Through his “Forward Thinking plan, the resolution states, the Commissioner “has established a renewed direction and purpose for the Colorado Department of Education and in so doing helped the state board of education fulfill its strategic goals.”

The resolution noted Commissioner Jones’ development of the Colorado Legacy Foundation, his efforts to elevate CDE as a resource for information and support, his leadership on the Colorado Growth Model, his insistence that accountability measures should be “fair and consistent” under Senate Bill 09-163, his drive to raise expectations for through rigorous and newly adopted content standards for students and the attributes for a new state assessment program, his work on closing the achievement gap, his support of the Educator Effectiveness Bill (Senate Bill 10-161), his dedication to fiscal accountability to improve department practices and the resulting “kudos” from the U.S. Department of Education and his “unparalleled” service on various commissions and boards (among them the NCATE Blue Ribbon Panel on Teacher Preparation, Education Commission of the State’s Steering Committee and the McREL Board of Directors).

The resolution also noted Commissioner Jones’ participation in the Council of Chief State School Officers and the national arena, leading to “great respect from his colleagues in other states” and also that he is “recognized by political, education and lay leaders alike for his bold leadership to do whatever it takes for students.”

The resolution concludes: Now, therefore, BE IT RESOLVED: The Colorado State Board of Education formally commends Dwight D. Jones for his outstanding service as Colorado Commissioner of Education, his tireless efforts to increase academic achievement, and his championship for preparing all students for future success.”

Commissioner Jones’ last day of service will be Monday, Dec. 13. New board members will be sworn in to replace DeHoff and Littleton in January 2011. State Board Member Angelika Schroeder, who was re-elected, will also be sworn-in for a new term.

Other Action

In other action, the Colorado State Board of Education:

  • Took action on disciplinary proceedings concerning an authorization, charge no. 2010EC16.
  • Took action on disciplinary proceedings concerning a license, charge no. 2010EC23.
  • Took action on disciplinary proceedings concerning a license, charge no. 2010EC26.
  • Took action on disciplinary proceedings concerning a license, charge no. 2010EC27.
  • Took action on disciplinary proceedings concerning a license, charge no. 2010EC28.
  • Took action on disciplinary proceedings concerning a license, charge no. 2010EC29.
  • Approved requests for approval of initial emergency authorizations (monthly total, 6).
  • Approved requests for approval of renewal emergency authorizations (monthly total, 4).
  • Approved the principal/administrator induction program submitted by Ft. Morgan County School District RE-3.
  • Approved the principal/administrator induction program submitted by Springfield School District RE-4.
  • Approved tuition rates for Rocky Mountain Deaf School for fiscal year 2010-11.
  • Approved excess cost rates for eligible facilities for fiscal year 2010-11.
  • Approved the annual expenditure from the Mary Jones Trust Fund at the request of the Colorado Talking Book Library.
  • Approved the revised amount for Akron R-1 School District regarding the BEST Grant and match amount.
  • Approved notice of rulemaking to amend the rules for the Administration of Statewide Accountability Measures.
  • Approved notice of rulemaking to amend the rules for the administration of the Colorado School Awards Program.
  • Approved the appointment of Chris Watney, executive director of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, to the Average Daily Membership Advisory Committee.

For additional information about each agenda item or to review the proposed rules, please visit the state board’s Web page for agendas:

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