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ESSA Comprehensive and Targeted Support and Improvement

ESSA Comprehensive and Targeted Support and Improvement Overview

Under ESSA, Colorado will be identifying schools as either Comprehensive Support (CS) schools or Targeted Support (TS) schools.  For Comprehensive Support schools, Colorado will annually rank all schools based on the total percentage of points earned on the State’s accountability system using data from the 3 preceding years. Title I schools with the lowest total percentage of points earned, to include a minimum of 5 percent of all Title I schools, will be identified as Comprehensive Support and Improvement schools.  The state will also identify all public schools with a four-year, plus extended year, graduation rate below 67 percent, based on three years of graduation data, as a Comprehensive Support and Improvement school. For Alternative Education Campuses (AECs), the state will identify schools with a four-year, plus extended year, completion rate below 67 percent, based on three years of completion data, for Comprehensive Support. Schools will exit from Comprehensive Support if they no longer meet the criteria that led to identification after the third year.

Targeted Support schools will also be identified annually.  Colorado will use the following indicators from the statewide accountability system for annually evaluating the performance of disaggregated groups: English Language Arts achievement, Math achievement, English Language Arts growth, Math growth, the “other indicator” of school quality and student success (when available), Graduation Rates (high schools only) and English Language Proficiency growth (for schools with a large enough population of English learners).

Each student group (economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and English learners) earns a rating for each specific measure in the accountability system. Schools that are consistently underperforming will be identified as Targeted Support schools. Consistently underperforming is defined as a given student group earning the lowest rating on at least three indicators based on aggregated three-year performance, when the student group meets the minimum number (i.e., each student group must have at least 16 students for achievement indicators and 20 for growth indicators). Beginning in 2017-2018, schools will be identified every August based on data from the three years preceding identification.

Comprehensive Schools: 

  • Title I Schools in lowest preforming 5% on School Performance Framework (SPF) percentage points earned
  • Any high school with graduation rate below 67%
  • Title I Schools with chronically low performing group(s).

Targeted Schools:

  • Any school consistently underperforming for one or more disaggregated groups of student
  • Additional Targeted schools (schools with disaggregated groups that would meet the lowest 5% definition. 

In addition, using the same methodology that is used to identify the lowest performing 5 percent of Title I schools for Comprehensive Support and Improvement, the state will identify schools with low-performing student groups for Additional Targeted Support. Each subgroup within a school will receive a summative score based on all indicators in the statewide accountability system, and schools will be ranked based on the performance of each student group. Schools will be identified for Additional Targeted Support when they have not  been identified as Comprehensive Support and Improvement, but   have at least one student group that performs in the lowest 5 percent for that group. Beginning in 2017-2018, schools will be identified every August based on data from the three years preceding identification. Schools that no longer meet the identification criteria after the third year will exit from Additional Targeted Support. Schools that have been identified for Additional Targeted Support for four consecutive years based on low-performance of the same student group, are Title I funded, and are not identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement as a lowest 5 percent school will be moved to the Comprehensive Support and Improvement category.


Districts will be notified each fall if they have schools identified as Comprehensive or Targeted.  Districts will be responsible for notifying their schools.  Shortly after identifying schools, CDE will provide an opportunity for districts to apply for additional grant funds on behalf of their identified schools.

  • September 2017: LEAs notified of CS/TS schools
  • September- December 2017: Planning and Matching of supports 
  • Early 2018: Implement Identified Support 

Comprehensive Schools and Targeted Schools Plan Requirements

ESSA requires that schools identified for Comprehensive Support or Targeted Support develop and implement an improvement plan in conjunction with stakeholders including principal, other school leaders, teachers and parents.  Comprehensive Support school plans will be approved by the school, LEA and CDE.  The LEA will be responsible for monitoring Targeted Support school plans.  Plans must include the following components


Comprehensive Support Plan: 

  • Be informed by student performance against state-determined long-term goals
  • Include evidence based interventions
  • Include school-level needs assessment, and
  • Address resource inequities


Targeted Support Plan:

  • Be informed by student performance for identified disaggregated student group(s) against state-determined long-term goals, and
  • Include evidence based interventions
  • Additional Target Support schools must also address resource inequities. 

Evidence-based Interventions

Evidence-based refers to an activity, strategy, or intervention that has demonstrated a statistically significant effect on improving student outcomes or other relevant outcomes.  CDE is currently working on creating a resource bank of evidence-based interventions that will be made available to LEAs.  This list will evolve over time as more research becomes available but will continue to be a resource and reference not a required selection list.

Resources for Comprehensive Support Schools and Targeted Support Schools

CDE currently offers several supports to schools on Improvement through a competitive grant process including but not limited to Diagnostic Review, Turnaround Network, Connect for Success and Turnaround Leader Development.  CDE will continue to offer these supports as well as provide funding for evidence-based support that a district has identified for their schools on Improvement. 

School Improvement Funds

Funds will be made available to schools through a single application process that will match the appropriate support to eligible schools/districts.  Some key elements that will be considered in the matching process are type of identification (CS or TS), current supports in place and a school’s need, capacity, and readiness for a particular support.  The process will continue to be refined as schools begin to be identified.

For a recent webinar regarding ESSA Accountability in Colorado, please visit

Schools Identified for Comprehensive and Targeted Support and Improvement Webinar and PowerPoint


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