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A brief overview of the new law

By Alyssa Pearson, Interim Associate Commissioner
Monday, February 8, 2016 - 9:30am

On the day ESSA passed in December, CDE staff provided a brief overview of the new law to the State Board of Education. Take a look at the highlights of the changes that will affect Colorado’s assessment and accountability systems. Since this presentation was given, we’ve learned that most likely, the U.S. Department of Education won’t issue rules until October 2016 and state plans may not be due until summer 2017. As CDE begins to gear up for these changes, we will be asking for input around the state on the development of the state plan.

Comments

The NRC has nominations open for committee members, is there any nomination for this important rule making committee being submitted from our own CDE? The schedule for Negotiations will begin soon, two sessions so far #1 March 21-23 and #2 April 6-8, 2016. There is an optional #3 session if needed scheduled for April 18-19. It would be a great opportunity for Colorado and all students if we had someone nominated from Colorado to work with individuals representing various constituencies on developing the proposed regulations for the States. have you heard of anyone being nominated?

CDE agrees that it is important that Colorado’s voice be heard as part of the ESSA negotiated rule-making process. Consequently, CDE will continue to work with other states and organizations to identify areas where: (1) ESSA necessitates new rules; (2) new rules would helpful in operationalizing ESSA, and; (3) new rules would reduce the state and local flexibility and discretion that has been written in to the new legislation (and thus would not be beneficial). CDE will likely put forth names for both the assessment and supplement v. supplant committees and will certainly monitor the rule-making process to help ensure that the result is beneficial to Colorado’s school districts, schools, and students.

The change fostered by ESSA provides a once in a career opportunity to tweak the entire assessment process. I agree that data informed instruction is still the ideal. However, testing every year in every required content area is overkill. Alternating the state assessments is equally as informative as annual tests of this type. I advocate for testing along a different pattern, say reading in 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th, math in 2nd 4th, 6th and 8th,, etc. This allows for more appropriate use of local formative measures in three "off years" but still provides the comparisons that seem to be what the legislature and CDE are pining for. My $ .02.

With the challenges surrounding the differences in the state provisions around parent test excusal, I would recommend the following. There should be two components of the accountability system: achievement and participation. Schools and districts would receive an achievement and growth rating and a color designation each year. For example, if a school fails to meet participation in one subgroup for any reason, they would receive a yellow band under their rating signifying -this school failed to meet 95% participation. If a school fails to meet participation in 2 or more subgroups or in general or falls below 90% participation, that school would receive a red band signifying - This school this school failed to meet 95% participation and must submit a 1 year and 3 year plan for meeting 95% in all areas that includes a stakeholder survey and a communication plan. This should meet the DOE requirement of including participation in the accountability designation while also meeting the needs of the legislature. Additionally, I would recommend all schools that fall below 95%recieve two SPF/DPF. The first with actual numbers. The second with statistically enhanced numbers that use a sound imputation methodology (propensity scores, etc) to estimate performance. Prior scores should be used in the variable set. These scores should be used for reevaluation and planning and should not be publically available. St Er. can be used to support the validity of the "Statistically Estimated" SPF/DPF.

Reconciling state and federal requirements regarding assessment participation is challenging indeed. Thank you for taking the time to share your ideas, they are very helpful.

You cannot hold a school responsible for whether or not parents choose to participate in testing. If parents -- as taxpayers and stakeholders in this whole process -- are choosing to opt out of this testing, that says a lot about the value of the testing program. Parents have every right to opt out. Protest is the only power we have, as Americans, to tell our leaders what we like and don't like. If parents are opting out, they are doing so in protest. They are sending us a very clear message, and we should be listening. The parents are the clients, after all. This is a democracy, and by opting out, parents are casting their vote of no confidence in the testing system as it exists.

Thank you for your comment. The Colorado State Board of Education has clearly stated through their February 2015 motion that schools and districts will not be held liable for the decision of parents to excuse their children from state assessments.

For the first time since NCLB, physical education will now be included in the definition of a well-rounded education. How will districts, building principals and P.E. teachers be educated about the implications of this important shift in thinking?

The CDE Standards and Instructional Support (SIS) team in partnership with the CDE Health and Wellness team is monitoring the rule making process for ESSA and has been conducting a review of current Colorado statute that aligns to the well-rounded education definition. Currently, the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids (CAP4K) states the following:

CAP4K SB08-212(a) THE NEXT GENERATION OF STANDARDS-BASED EDUCATION MUST CONSIDER THE NEEDS OF THE WHOLE STUDENT BY CREATING A RICH AND BALANCED CURRICULUM (Section 22-7-1005 (2)(a) C.R.S)- THE STATE BOARD SHALL ENSURE THAT THE PRESCHOOL THROUGH ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION STANDARDS, AT A MINIMUM, INCLUDE STANDARDS IN READING, WRITING, MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE, HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS, PHYSICAL EDUCATION, WORLD LANGUAGES, ENGLISH LANGUAGE COMPETENCY, ECONOMICS, CIVICS, AND ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONAL AREAS FOR WHICH THE STATE BOARD HAD ADOPTED STANDARDS

The SIS and Health and Wellness teams at CDE have considered physical education one of the ten core subjects in Colorado since 2009 and believe that Colorado’s statutory language aligns with the intent of the well-rounded education definition within ESSA. In order to explicitly communicate this, we have provided a link to a free e-guide for guidance on Physical Education and ESSA at: http://www.cde.state.co.us/node/21823.

CDE PE Content Specialist Phyllis Reed is also developing a training resource that includes this information and will be offering workshops this summer. This training session overview will be available as a link on the PE website in late summer for interested parties unable to attend these sessions. Please contact Phyllis Reed at reed_p@cde.state.co.us for further questions.

How will CDE support schools around providing the health services students need to attend and succeed in school? Whole child, whole community and whole school Colorado schools have some of the lowest nurse and behavioral health to student ratios.

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