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News Release - State Board of Education considers waivers for Colorado's first charter school on tribal land

Feb. 11, 2021

State Board of Education considers waivers for Colorado's first charter school on tribal land

DENVER - The State Board of Education at its meeting on Wednesday and Thursday considered waivers from state laws requested by the Charter School Institute on behalf of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe for a new elementary school called Kwiyagat Community Academy. The tribe plans to open the school on its land in southwest Colorado in fall 2021. It would be the first charter school on tribal land in Colorado and aims to provide a focus on Ute culture, language and traditions. Many of the requested waivers are uncommon due to the sovereign authority of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and are intended to avoid confusion and conflict between Colorado and tribal laws.

The board approved several of the waivers, including one that will allow the school to give preference to tribal members in hiring decisions and one that allows teaching the proper use and respect of tobacco during traditional Ute Mountain Ute Tribal ceremonies. The board did not approve the waiver requested for the elementary school to teach about the use of Peyote, which has psychotropic properties, in traditional ceremonies. The board will continue considering the requested waivers during its regular March meeting. 

Update provided on Adams 14 improvement plans

Adams 14 School District staff, along with its external partner MGT, provided a quarterly update on progress to improve student achievement, as required by the state board in May 2019. The district reported improvements in math growth scores despite the extensive amount of remote learning required by the pandemic. Improvements were also seen in Adams City High School’s graduation rates and expansion of Career and Technical Education pathways. The district recently was awarded a $2.2 million RISE Grant from Gov. Jared Polis to expand opportunities for students to earn college credits or an industry credential while they are in high school.

Comprehensive Early Literacy Grant awarded

The board approved $1,677,181 in Comprehensive Early Literacy Grants to 10 districts and one BOCES to help schools improve the quality of reading instruction. Grant funds supplement the READ Act and provide schools with funds to purchase evidence-based reading instruction materials, the Acadience Reading assessment for progress monitoring, literacy coaching and professional development opportunities for teachers.

2020 Blue Ribbon Schools recognized

Four Colorado schools earned the 2020 National Blue Ribbon Award, a recognition from the U.S. Department of Education for schools with high achievement or that have effectively closed achievement gaps among their students. Principals from each of the following schools were in virtual attendance:

  • D'Evelyn Junior/Senior High School, Jefferson County R-1
  • Highline Academy Southeast, Denver Public Schools
  • McAuliffe International School, Denver Public Schools
  • Swink Elementary School, Swink School District

Holocaust and Genocide Studies to be added to Colorado Academic Standards

As part of the Colorado Academic Standards review and revision process, a committee has been formed to provide recommendations for Holocaust and genocide studies for inclusion into the social studies standards. The committee anticipates making its final recommendations to the board in June, and the board is required to adopt Holocaust and genocide studies into the social studies standards by July 1, 2021. During the 2021-22 school year, the social studies standards review committee will incorporate these standards into its revision recommendations. Each school district board of education and charter school must incorporate Holocaust and genocide studies into an existing course required for graduation beginning on or after July 1, 2023.

Social studies is one of five content areas currently being updated through the standards review and revision process. The other content areas include dance, drama and theatre arts, music, and visual arts. Three groups of content areas will undergo the review process over the next few years. The next group of content areas up for review will consist of comprehensive health, computer science, physical education and world languages. The final and third group includes English language proficiency, mathematics, science, and reading, writing and communicating.

In other actions, the board: