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Accountability

Fact Sheets

  • School and District Accountability
    • This fact sheet provides an overview for parents of Colorado's school and district accountability system.
      English (PDF)Spanish (PDF)
    • This fact sheet provides a more detailed overview of how the state and federal system identify schools for support and improvement.
      English (PDF)
    • Accountability Clock Fact Sheet (PDF) This fact sheet explains the Accountability Clock process. 
  • Q&A About School and District Performance Frameworks (PDF)
    This Q&A provides easy-to-understand answers to high-level questions about the state's School and District Performance Frameworks and explains the general accountability system and school ratings.
  • Colorado’s Education Improvement Efforts “101" (PDF) 
    This fact sheet provides an overview, implementation progress and next steps for Colorado's Achievement Plan for Kids (Senate Bill 08-212), the Education Accountability Act (Senate Bill 09-163) and the Great Teachers and Leaders Act (Senate Bill 10-191).
  • Supporting Great Schools and Districts for All Students
    Learn about Colorado's accountability system consisting of relevant and rigorous standards, aligned and meaningful assessments, excellent teachers and school leaders, and high‐performing schools and districts.
    English (PDF)Spanish (PDF) 

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Colorado education accountability system work?

Accountability Ratings - Blue/Green on Top

Colorado’s education accountability system is based on the notion that every student should have an opportunity to receive an excellent education and graduate ready to succeed. Our system of evaluating and rating schools and districts helps educators and communities measure their achievements and meet this challenge. Ratings are determined through a three-tiered Performance Framework (defined below).

Successful schools and districts are recognized while those whose students struggle are identified for support and assigned a “Priority Improvement” or “Turnaround” rating. When these two lowest ratings are assigned to a school or district they are required to work with their communities to develop an improvement plan. Improvement plans can be in place for up to five years. If progress has not been made after five consecutive years, the schools or districts must take significant action.

Why is this important to my child’s academic success?

Colorado’s education accountability system is based on the belief that every student should receive an excellent education and graduate ready to succeed. Successful schools and districts are recognized and serve as models, while those that are struggling receive support. The state's accountability system was created to provide specific, detailed information about academic performance of schools and districts with data that can be compared to other schools and districts around the state. The system provides a consistent review every year at how schools and districts are doing, based on the assessment data available (both achievement and growth), and the post-secondary workforce readiness indicators (such as graduation rates, dropout rates, matriculation rates and college entrance exam scores). The system also is about accountability. We celebrate and learn from successful schools, and struggling schools are identified for extra resources and support. 

How are ratings determined?

Every year, a detailed ratings report, called a Performance Framework, is created for each Colorado public school and district based on a variety of measures factored together:

  • Academic Achievement: Average scores on state assessments for all students and disaggregated groups.
  • Academic Growth: Progress students make in their achievement on assessments from one year to the next for all students and disaggregated groups.
  • Postsecondary readiness (high schools and districts only): How well students are prepared for college and the workforce – measured through graduation rates, dropout rates, matriculation rates and college entrance exam scores.

Where can I find my child’s school plan type and district ratings?

The information is available on the Colorado Department of Education’s SchoolView website.  Click here for detailed instructions on accessing your school and district ratings.  

Who assigns the plan types/ratings and what is the timeline?

Preliminary ratings are assigned by the Colorado Department of Education in late summer. Districts can pursue a change in their ratings through a request-to-reconsider process throughout the fall, and final ratings are assigned in December.

Districts: The education commissioner makes the final determination of accreditation ratings.

Schools: The commissioner recommends the plan type, but final decisions are made by the State Board of Education.

What happens when schools/districts receive persistent low ratings?

Schools and districts with persistent low ratings should be implementing research-based strategies to improve student outcomes. Schools and districts with the lowest two ratings (priority improvement and turnaround) for five or more years will receive specific direction from the Colorado State Board of Education for a pathway to pursue. Possible actions the board can direct include: school closure, turning a district-run school into a charter school, working with an external management partner, district reorganization (for the district only) and seeking “innovation status” for a school or network of schools that could provide needed flexibility from certain state and local rules. CDE seeks to work with districts to determine the pathway that has the greatest likelihood of increasing student performance.

In addition, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) law requires CDE to identify schools and districts for improvement if they have low graduation rates. Both four- and seven-year graduation rates are used to identify schools and districts in need of support. Schools get support if they have fewer than 67 percent of their students graduating in four years or seven years.
Also, ESSA requires CDE to identify schools in need of support based on the performance of specific groups of students.

How does low participation on assessments affect the ratings?

Students participate in assessments once a year. If a school has low participation in the assessment process it can impact the overall results for the school, so it is important to consider the participation rates on state assessments when reviewing the ratings.  To help you interpret the reports, a descriptor of “Low Participation” is added to school plan types and district ratings for those schools and districts with participation rates in two or more assessments that fall below 95 percent.  This includes students formally excused from tests by their parents. Because low participation can impact the overall results, it is important to consider the participation rates on state assessments when reviewing the ratings.

Some schools and districts had their ratings decreased due to low participation by students who did not receive formal excusals by their parents. This is also noted on the framework report. According to a State Board of Education motion, schools and districts cannot be held liable for low participation from students who received formal parental excusals.

Some schools and districts also received a rating of “insufficient state data” because the number of students was too small or not representative of the entire population to use to describe the schools’ or districts’ performance. For more information on performance indicators and descriptors, an explainer is available here.

Why are average scores on assessments used to determine academic performance?

Academic performance, measured by average assessment scores, is just one factor in the how ratings are determined.

Instead of the option of using the percent of students scoring above the college and career readiness benchmark, average scores are used because they are most inclusive. The average score incorporates the performance of all students – including the very highest and very lowest performers on the assessment. Using the percent at benchmark does not recognize improvements for students who may be seriously behind.  And remember, average scores are never used alone to determine ratings.

  • Average scores are combined with growth, which measures how much students are progressing from year to year, to provide a more complete picture of a school and district’s performance.
  • High schools and districts are also measured on their graduation rates, dropout rates, college matriculation and college entrance scores.

 

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