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News Release - State board approves revised menu of graduation requirements

Sept. 10, 2015

State board approves revised menu of graduation requirements  

The Colorado State Board of Education met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 9 and 10.  Meeting highlights include:

Board approves revised menu of graduation guidelines

The board adopted a revised graduation guidelines menu, creating more choices for school districts to use in setting local requirements for high school graduation.  School districts are required by state law to implement local graduation requirements that meet or exceed the state’s graduation guidelines.

The graduating class of 2021 will be the first class to fall under the new graduation requirements set by local school boards. These students will be in the eighth grade next year.

The new, approved menu was developed following a series of discussions with more than 330 business, school, higher education and community leaders from across the state. The new menu was developed to provide additional options for districts, especially those in rural areas that may not have access to such menu items as concurrent enrollment, Advanced Placement classes or International Baccalaureate programs.

The state board’s motion recognized that the new menu should be considered “the floor not the ceiling” for graduation requirements, and it allows districts to request waivers that meet the intent of the law.

The motion further directed department staff to convene a group to seek to expand career and technical education options and clarify the collaboratively developed performance assessment options over the next two months. In addition, the board directed CDE to convene parents, k-12 educators, postsecondary educators and industry representatives in 18 months to determine whether other additions to the menu should be considered by the board two years from now and that the process be repeated every two years after.

The board also voted to remove the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) tests in English language arts and math, also known as PARCC tests, from the menu, stating that it no longer makes sense to include those tests because in the future they will be given only in grades three through nine. 

State assessment updates announced

Interim Commissioner Elliott Asp announced the department’s plans to release statewide results from the new state assessments in English language arts and math at the November board meeting.  Often referred to as the PARCC tests, the state’s English language arts and math tests were developed by a consortia of states called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.  The tests are part of the state’s overall testing system called the Colorado Measures of Academic Success, which also includes tests in science and social studies. District and school results will be available later in November.

In addition, Asp said department staff is developing a sampling plan for one-third of the state’s elementary and middle schools to participate in the fourth- and seventh-grade social studies tests as required by a new state law. The plan will be finalized in November.

High School social studies exams will not be administered to high school students in the 2015-16 school year.  To meet the new law’s requirement for a three-year sampling plan for social studies tests, these assessments will be administered at zero percent of high schools in 2016, approximately 50 percent of high schools in 2017, and the remaining 50 percent in 2018.

CDE is also developing – as required by the new state law – a request for proposals for the 10th grade college preparatory exam and 11th grade college entrance exam.  Asp said the department anticipates announcing the winning vendor this November.  

More information about this year’s state tests is available on CDE’s website at http://www.cde.state.co.us/communications/cmasfactsheet.

Board recognizes Presidential Award winners for math and science teaching

The board recognized recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the highest recognition a kindergarten through 12th-grade math or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the U.S. The two award winners are Mark Paricio, a science teacher in the Cherry Creek School District, and Kirstin Oseth, a math teacher in the Cheyenne Mountain School District.  Winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level. Each winner receives a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also are invited to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony, as well educational and celebratory events.

Discussions continue on Elementary and Secondary Education Act waiver renewal

The board continued its discussion about Colorado’s potential waiver renewal request from portions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Department staff shared the latest feedback from the U.S. Department of Education on the potential waiver request provisions related to Colorado’s new laws governing assessments. The board will continue this conversation in October. View the presentation.

Public input sought for desired qualifications of next commissioner

Ray & Associates Inc., the search firm hired by the state board, briefed the board on the status of the search process.  Public input into desired qualities of the next commissioner is currently being sought through an online survey and a series of public meetings.  The job description will be posted the week of Sept. 21 and the deadline for applications will be Nov. 7. 

Fee increase proposed for educator licenses

CDE’s Office of Professional Learning and Educator Licensing presented a proposal to increase educator licensing fees by $10 for in-state teachers and $30 for out-of-state teachers.  The increase is designed to preserve the responsive and timely completion of the office’s educator preparation, licensure and enforcement work.  The board is tentatively scheduled to vote on the proposed fee increase at its October meeting.

Other Actions

  • The state board voted to deny Sheridan School District’s appeal of its 2014 accreditation rating of “priority improvement” and its request to be accredited with “improvement.” Sheridan proposed a higher rating based on removing its alternative education campus results, according to state board rule. The department position is that the data submitted did not meet the conditions for excluding the alternative education campus and did not warrant a higher rating.
  • The board approved a notice of rulemaking concerning educator preparation and licensing rule alignment.   Written comments may be submitted to state.board@cde.state.co.us until Oct. 5, 2015. A public hearing will follow before the board takes additional action. For more information visit: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeprof/rulesreviewcontentassessment.
  • The board reinstated exclusive chartering authority for Adams County School District 50.
  • Regarding the waiver request from state statues by Elbert County School District C-2, the board voted to approve the district request to forego use of a state approved assessment for kindergarten readiness and instead use a unique district process for determining school readiness. The board denied the district’s request for a waiver to the statutory requirement to use a State Board approved interim reading assessment annually for first- through third-grade students who demonstrate grade level competency. The board decided to table the request for a waiver from the provisions of the READ Act regarding information districts must provide parents of students with significant reading deficiencies
  • The board approved waivers from statute by Jefferson County R-1 on behalf of Golden View Classical Academy.
  • The board approved the recommendation of the Financial Policies and Procedures Advisory Committee that no changes should be made to the current chart of accounts for revenue reporting – the existing chart of accounts already allows for the reporting of gifts, grants and donations.
  • The board affirmed Aurora Public School’s decision to deny the Cooperative Community Schools’ charter school application. 

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