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WestEd Briefing on ESSA: Designations and Supports for Title I Schools

By Peter Sherman, Executive Director, District and School Performance Unit
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - 8:40am

On Friday, February 26, a CDE team attended a training about ESSA.  At the training, we learned about ESSA and its implications for how we designate and support schools and districts.  ESSA delineates three types of school designations and related supports for Title I schools.  

  •  “Comprehensive” schools are identified as the lowest-performing 5% of Title I schools or high schools that fail to graduate at least 67% of their students.
  •  “Targeted” schools are schools that are “consistently under-performing” for one or more student subgroup.
  •  “Additional Targeted” schools are any school whose results for any student subgroup meet the criteria for the lowest performing 5% of Title I schools for students overall.

We will develop guidance and information for these school categories over time, with stakeholder input, with the goal of aligning with our state accountability system, as much as possible. We will build on our current school supports in order to develop a coherent and articulated system of supports that align ESSA with the needs of our schools. We will communicate more about our timeline for identifying these categories, as we receive more information regarding guidelines, timelines, and expectations from the U.S. Department of Education.


Under ESSA, the formerly required Title I Public School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services (SES) are now optional. While CDE has opted to continue the Choice and SES requirement for 2016-2017, I would strongly encourage that this become optional for LEAs beginning in 2017-2018. I suspect that districts in Colorado have implemented these programs with varying degrees of success under NCLB, and it would be prudent to allow individual LEAs to decide if the "Choice" and SES options are effective, or if other strategies could be implemented in lower performing schools that would provide more effective supports on a case-by-case basis.

Thank you for your recommendation. We are in agreement that effective evidence-based programs, interventions, and strategies should be implemented to support low-performing schools. Your suggestions are very helpful and will be taken into consideration as we develop our ESSA state plan. We encourage other readers to weigh-in on this issue.

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