State board delays decision on READ Act proposal
The Colorado State Board of Education met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 10 & 11. Meeting highlights include:
READ Act Rulemaking Hearing Conducted
The board on Wednesday conducted a hearing for proposed changes to the rules for the READ Act, a 2012 law focused on literacy in Colorado’s kindergarten through third grade. The board’s discussion was about a suggested change to rules regarding the assessment of English language learners who receive literacy instruction in both Spanish and English. The original READ Act Rules adopted by the board in 2013 required all students be tested in English; however, a subsequent ruling by the Attorney General indicated that students who receive literacy instruction in both English and Spanish may be assessed in either language for determining significant reading deficiencies. Some board members, however, want to ensure students who are learning both in English and Spanish – essentially, those who are in bilingual or dual language programs – were being assessed in both languages to determine their grade-level reading competency. Denver Public Schools Acting Superintendent Susana Cordova spoke in opposition of the proposal that would require English language learners to take a reading test in English annually. The board members will continue consideration of proposal regarding this issue and vote on rules at their March meeting.
Approval of Innovation Application
The board approved an application by Talbott Elementary School (Widefield School District) for innovation status. The school requested waivers from certain state rules for flexibility in instruction, scheduling and calendar to create a school focused on a STEAM curriculum – science, technology, engineering, art and math.
Approval of Waiver for Jefferson County Charter School Applications
The board approved a waiver of state law to allow the Jefferson County School District R-1 to change its timeline for charter school applications. State law requires Colorado school districts to accept charter school applications between Aug. 1 and Oct. 1 on a fall cycle. The waiver approved allows the district to accept letters of intent by Feb. 1 and applications by March 15 for consideration to open a charter by the next fall of the following calendar year.
Authorized Relay Graduate School of Education
The board authorized Relay Graduate School of Education as an institute of higher education offering post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs.
Rejected Resolution on Biliteracy Seal
The board in a 5-2 vote rejected the proposed Seal of Biliteracy resolution that would have officially recognized and honored students who had achieved proficiency in multiple world languages, including English.
The board approved the notice of rulemaking for School Bullying Prevention and Education Grant Program. A public hearing on the rules will be held during the April board meeting.
The board approved the state review panel 2016 nominations.
Board provides positions on current legislation
The board provided its position on current education legislation going through the General Assembly.
- The board opposes House Bill 1121, which would exempt national board certified teachers from annual requirements of the licensed personnel evaluation system for up to three years.
- The board voted 5-2 in support of House Bill 1131, which calls for a host of changes to the state testing system, including a repeal of the requirement that Colorado be part of the multi-state testing group. The legislation also would give the board and not the Department of Education the authority to choose the 10th and 11th grade college and career readiness tests.
- The board opposes Senate Bill 45 that would add information on student loan debt and retirement planning for public schools as part of the existing statutorily defined financial literacy standard.
The board recognized 2015 Title I Distinguished Schools award winners, Palmer Lake Elementary School (Lewis-Palmer School District No. 38) and Benjamin Eaton Elementary (Eaton School District RE-2). In accepting the award, Peggy Griebenow, principal of Palmer Lake, told the board that closing the achievement and growth gap for students also helps close the “hope gap.” Teaching students to read, do math and write gives them hope. It helps them feel empowered and gives them confidence “to choose to do anything, go anywhere and be anyone they want to be,” Griebenow said. Schools eligible for the annual award must have at least a 35 percent poverty rate, demonstrate high academic achievement for two or more years and meet or exceed state criteria for two or more years in a row. Winners are chosen in two categories – schools with exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years and schools that have closed the achievement gaps between student groups. One school received an award in each of the two categories. Benjamin Eaton Elementary was awarded the Exceptional Student Performance Award for the second year in a row. Palmer Lake Elementary was awarded the Closing the Achievement Gap Award. Each school receives a banner to hang at their school and a $10,000 check.
For more information, visit: https://www.cde.state.co.us/fedprograms/ti/a_distinguishedschools
Finally, the board recognized former Interim Commissioner Dr. Elliott Asp, who had held the position from June 16, 2015, to Jan. 19, 2016, between the time former Commissioner Robert Hammond retired and current Commissioner Richard Crandall began his term. Asp had joined the department in 2012 to provide Commissioner Hammond advice and support on special projects in the area of policy, assessment, accountability, educator effectiveness and the Colorado Growth Model. Asp had previously been assistant superintendent at both Cherry Creek and Douglas County school districts.