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News Release - Education Accountability Act Takes Flight

Nov. 3, 2010

News Release

Education Accountability Act Takes Flight

The Colorado State Board of Education today took the first formal step in implementing the new Education Accountability Act of 2009.

The board action today assigns each public school to one of four categories that determine the type of improvement plan—based on a thorough performance evaluation—that schools will be required to write and enact.

“The new accountability system focuses on what matters most in student success and represents a robust evaluation of overall school performance,” said Colorado Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones.

“Starting with the highly interactive data from the Colorado Growth Model, the new system provides a comprehensive picture of school performance,” he added. “The system treats schools differently based on results. Schools doing well will gain more autonomy and freedom while those that struggle will receive more support. Unfortunately, there are too many schools where performance is far below expectations. No matter the performance level, however, I encourage parents and all community members to actively engage in this new information and to work closely with schools to make meaningful change to improve achievement on behalf of all students.”

The state board action today (on a unanimous vote) places each school in one of four groups of schools. Schools in each group will develop an improvement plan tailored for their needs. The four types of plans to be developed are “performance,” “improvement,” “priority improvement” and “turnaround.” All schools will develop an annual improvement plan with measurable goals for student success.

Schools are placed in groups based on a common framework for evaluating their performance. The vast majority of school districts in the state agreed to the initial school plan type determined by the state.

The evaluations are based on four performance indicators—academic achievement; academic growth; gaps in growth rates for a variety of subgroups such as income, ethnicity, native language, students with Individual Education Plans and students below grade level; and success in preparing students for postsecondary and workforce readiness (based on dropout rates, graduation rates and scores on college-entrance exams). In some cases, the assigned group is based on additional data and evidence provided by the school district.

Out of 2,080 Colorado school plan assignments to date, 99 school levels (see note below about distinction between levels and school buildings) have not received determinations for school plan type and are pending data review. Initial school plan types for these 99 school levels will be resolved following a final review by Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones. Commissioner Jones will make recommendations to the state board on the remaining schools at the December meeting, scheduled for Monday, Dec. 6.

Of the 2,080 school assignments, 62 percent were assigned “performance plan,” 21 percent were assigned “improvement plan,” 7 percent were assigned “priority improvement plan,” 4 percent of schools were assigned “turnaround plan” and the remaining 1 percent of schools were closed.

The third and fourth plan types—“priority improvement plan” and “turnaround plan”—require increased levels of state oversight. A school is not permitted to implement a “priority improvement” and/or “turnaround plan” for longer than a combined five consecutive school years before being required to restructure or close the school.

In all, there are 230 school levels that are grouped as needing “priority improvement plan” or “turnaround plan.” These schools, based on their plan designation, will require some level of state support or oversight.

For a complete list of school designations and supporting material, follow this link:

The Web page includes a section marked “Status of School Plan Assignments.” Look for a complete spreadsheet listing school plan designations, a summary of the designations and a PowerPoint overview used in the presentation to the state board.

District Accreditation

Following a similar process as the school portion of the accreditation process, Commissioner Jones will determine final accreditation categories for districts by Monday, Nov. 15. Districts may appeal their final accreditation categories to the state board if they choose.

Next Steps

In January 2011, districts are required to submit district and school “priority improvement” and “turnaround” improvement plans, along with other plans required by the federal accountability system, to the Colorado Department of Education for review and feedback. If changes in any turnaround plans are requested, new plans will be due in March 2011. By April 15, districts will submit all district and school improvement plans for publication on SchoolView (, the department’s online portal for school accountability information.

State Performance Targets

In addition, the state board today approved the use of state performance targets detailed in the School and District Performance Frameworks for use this year and next year. Under the Education Accountability Act, the state board is required to “set, reaffirm or revise the targets” by Nov. 30 each year.

More About School Plan Types

The plan types are set through results on the School Performance Framework under the Education Accountability Act of 2009 (Senate Bill 09-163).

The School Performance Framework establishes common ground for accountability, provides transparent performance information to drive statewide conversation about change, modernizes reporting of state, district and school performance information and provides data as part of a new statewide system of support and intervention.

Templates for the reports can be found under the “Report Templates” heading at Actual reports, populated with data for each school and district, will become available on Thursday, Dec. 9.

Growth and postsecondary and workforce readiness are weighted more heavily in both school and district frameworks.

Schools receive a rating for their performance on each indicator of academic performance, showing how the performance relates to state expectations:

  1. Exceeds
  2. Meets
  3. Approaching
  4. Does not meet

The ratings roll up to an overall evaluation for school or district performance, which indicate the plan type assignment (in the case of schools) or accreditation category (in the case of districts).

The school and district performance framework reports provide detailed information about school, district and state performance. The information will be available at

A Note About “School Plan Levels”

The accountability system evaluates elementary, middle and high school levels separately. Some schools receive two or three plan assignments. As a result, the number of assignments and school levels (2,080) is higher than the number of schools in the state. Most schools receive only one plan assignment.

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