You are here

Accountability Pause for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 School Years

Pause on 2020-21 and 2021-22 State Accountability System Due to COVID-19

A second year of Accountability Pause (2021-2022) has been authorized by the Colorado legislature. The state's accountability system has been paused for 2020-21 and 2021-22. More details on the implications of a pause in accountability are available in the links below.


A second year of Accountability Pause (2021-2022) has been authorized by the Colorado legislature. CDE is in the process of updating this webpage.


In response to disruptions created by COVID-19, Colorado has paused the accountability system for two school years (2020-21 and 2021-22). On March 16, the Governor signed HB 21-1161 into law which paused state accountability for a second year. The department has also applied for and received waivers from the U.S. Department of Education to get additional flexibility on federal accountability requirements and use of funds. 

This webpage provides the latest decision on how the accountability pause will work; it will continue to be updated as events unfold and new policy decisions are made. [Last updated May 3, 2021]

Description of the Accountability Pause

While similiar to many of the practices used for the accountability pause in 2020-21, there will be some key differences in 2021-22. 

  • District and school plan types will roll over from 2020-2021 school year (which were rolled over from 2019). See the next section for an explanation on the hold process for ESSA identifications.
  • Districts and schools (including alternative education campuses) will not receive a 2021 performance framework. Preliminary and final reports will not be available.
  • While not available in 2020-21, the request to reconsider process will be available to schools and districts on the accountability clock (i.e., Priority Improvement, Turnaround). This is different from previous years when the process was open to all districts regardless of plan type. While eligible schools and districts may request a new plan type, the accountability clock is not adjusted. For example, a school with a Priority Improvement - Y3 plan type could move to Improvement - Y3. Two consecutive frameworks at Improvement or higher will need to be earned to fully exit performance watch. The department is working with the Accountability Work Group to design an amended request to reconsider process. 
  • Improvement planning continues. Reminder: All improvement plans must be submitted to CDE by October 15, 2021, for public posting unless eligible for biennial flexibility. CDE will review plans for identified schools and districts (i.e., Performance Watch, ESSA Comprehensive Support) and provide feedback within six weeks of submission. See more details and provide feedback here
  • Training and supports will continue to be available upon request via phone and webinar through the remainder of the school year. The department will continue to release a listing of opportunities. 
  • Many of the policy adjustments for 2021-22 were based upon the recommendation of the COVID-19 Policy Implications Stakeholder group. 

For Districts with Identified Schools through State or Federal Accountability

This section is aimed at districts and schools on Performance Watch under the state system (i.e., Priority Improvement, Turnaround, On Watch) and/or schools identified for support and improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including Comprehensive Support and Targeted Support.

State Performance Watch 

  • Schools and and districts on Performance Watch (i.e., Priority Improvement, Turnaround, On Watch) will also retain their Performance Watch year without advancing (e.g., a school on Year 4 of the accountability clock in 2019-20 remained on Year 4 in 2020-21 and will continue in 2021-22). This holds true even for those schools and districts that participate in the request reconsider process. For more information, please view Accountability Pause: Effects on Accountability Requirements Fact Sheet. [This document is being updated for 2021-22.]
  • The State Board of Education will not hold any accountability clock hearings in 2021-22, unless the district opts for early action. 
  • Progress monitoring will continue for sites that have received directed action from the State Board of Education. The department will contact districts about scheduling State Review Panel visits and recommendations. 
  • The department will contact districts about scheduling and re-scheduling State Review Panel visits and recommendations.

Federal Identification 

  • In accordance with the state's approved ESSA waiver, schools identified in 2019-20 for Comprehensive (CS) or Targeted Support (TS) will maintain their 2019 identification category and will remain eligible for support. No new identifications will be made until fall 2022. 
  • Only schools identified as CS based on graduation rates can exit the 2019-2020 identification list, if they meet the exit criteria based on recent graduation data (either 4- or 7-year graduation rate above 67%). Additionally, districts have the option to exit schools identified as TS in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 through the 2020-2021 Consolidated Application. However, all TS schools identified in 2019-2020 will remain on the ESSA support and improvement list and will be eligible for supports in 2021-2022. The list of ESSA identified shools on the CDE website will be updated in early fall to reflect these changes. Schools remaining on the updated list will be required to comply with ESSA improvement planning requirements, which were not impacted or changed by the waiver. 

Continued Support 

  • Schools identified for support and improvement under ESSA (both CS and TS) in 2019 or through the state accountability clock will continue to be eligible for supports and funding through the EASI grants 2021-22. Continue to work with your assigned support coordinator.