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News Release - State Board Meeting Highlights, October 5, 2011

Oct. 6, 2011

News Release

State board of education meeting highlights, Oct. 5

The Colorado State Board of Education met this week for a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Oct.5. Highlights from the day-long meeting include:

Budget and Public School Finance

Leanne Emm, assistant commissioner of public school finance discussed the release of the Sept. 20 economic forecasts from the Legislative Council and Office of State Planning and Budgeting. Both forecasts were less optimistic as compared to the June outlook. Neither forecast indicate budgetary actions will be required for 2011-2012, meaning no mid-year corrections are currently anticipated.

Preliminary closing numbers for 2010-2011 will allow the $67.5 million that was set aside through the School Finance Act to be available for appropriation in January. These funds will be used for changes in assessed valuations, pupil counts and at-risk counts. CDE has cautioned districts to expect cuts in 2012-2013 and to plan conservatively. The Public School Finance Unit has been working with the Office of State Planning and Budgeting to develop different scenarios for developing the November total program budget request.

State Education Fund

Over the past several years, transfers out of the State Education Fund to support the School Finance Act and categorical programs have exceeded fund revenues. This has caused a decline in the fund balance of the State Education Fund and in turn has decreased the available amount to support the total program and categorical funding increases required under Amendment 23.

Race to the Top 3

Having reviewed and received input on the U.S. Department of Education’s draft guidance for Race to the Top 3, CDE staff is preparing to submit its comments by Oct. 10. The next step will be to prepare a draft of part one of the application for review and prepare a concept paper for part two for the state board to react to at its November meeting. Other deadlines extend to November and December with receipt of funds expected in December.

Race to the Top 3 focuses on the four major areas of the original Race to the Top applications—standards and assessments, data systems, educator effectiveness and turning around the lowest performing schools. Additionally, the application requires an emphasis on promoting science, technology, engineering and math – also referred to as STEM. Colorado is eligible for a minimum of $12.25 million.

Race to the Top 3 Early Learning Challenge

Coordinated by the Governor’s office, the U.S. Department of Education’s Early Learning Challenge rewards states leading the way in improving quality and coordination among their early learning and development programs. The state must demonstrate a commitment to building coordinated systems, aligning resources and policies, and increasing access to high-quality early learning and development programs for children who need them most. Grant awards will range from around $50 million up to $100 million, depending on state population and proposed plans. Applications are due Oct. 19 and the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will announce winners in December.

Standards Transition Update

Melissa Colsman, CDE’s executive director of teaching and learning provided an overview of the transition timeline, legislative requirements, and resources including the Standards Implementation Toolkit that support districts’ work in the transition to the new Colorado Academic Standards. School officials are currently reviewing and revising local standards, adopting standards and adopting curricula. CDE continues to build out the 3-year project plan and support for districts with tools for transition. The office also holds online office hours twice a month and sends out bi-weekly e-updates.

Colsman also spoke about the Colorado English Language Proficiency Standards which provide a framework for language development and a bridge to the Colorado Academic Standards’ concepts and skills. CDE kicked off a 10-city tour of the CELP standards in September. The tour ends in Colorado Springs on Oct. 20.

Literacy Plan

An outline of the literacy plan has been developed and CDE’s literacy team is working closely with the state’s Administration through the Lt. Governor’s office to ensure the education department’s literacy plan complements the Governor’s literacy initiative. The state’s literacy team, an external advisory team and the Colorado Literacy Council will use the outline to complete the final plan which is anticipated in December.

Graduation Guidelines

CDE staff outlined the adoption of state guidelines for high school graduation requirements. Local districts can set their own unique local high school graduation requirements as long as they meet or exceed the minimum standard competencies set by the state board. The Colorado State Board of Education must adopt the comprehensive set of guidelines to be used by each school district board of education in developing local high school graduation requirements by Dec. 15.

Educator Effectiveness

Staff presented the third draft Educator Effectiveness rules, reviewed key changes and provided a draft outline of assurances for a new system for educator evaluations. The board is scheduled to adopt rules at its November meeting. Instead of requiring all districts to use or opt out of using the state’s evaluation system, the latest rules draft substituted language allowing districts to either use the state system or adopt their own standards which must “meet or exceed” the state standards, provided they crosswalk their quality standards to the state quality standards. Districts then must report information to the state for each principal and teacher on each of the state quality standards. The draft rules provide four state performance ratings: highly effective, effective, partially effective and ineffective.

The rulemaking hearing brought testimony from about 20 people including legislators, non-profit organizations, superintendents and teachers, all which voiced overall support for the draft rules. Several comments asked the board to refer back to the original recommendations from the State Council for Educator Effectiveness for guidance. Others encouraged the board to develop a robust system that sets the bar high and includes peer evaluation and coaching. After the board takes action on its rules, they are then sent back to the legislature for review.

The Colorado State Board of Education will hold its next meeting Nov. 9 & 10 at the Colorado Department of Education, 201 E. Colfax Ave., in Denver.

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