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Definition of Below Grade Level in Mathematics

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House Bill 23-1231 underscores the commitment to elevate math education outcomes statewide. Precision in identifying the students facing challenges in math allows for targeted interventions, enabling early intervention and tailored support to bridge learning gaps. By embracing a clear definition of this category of student, schools and school districts can implement evidence-informed strategies, personalize learning plans and allocate resources effectively.

Definition of “Below Grade Level" or "Struggling in Math”

School districts, schools and public charter schools must provide access to linguistic, instructional and behavioral scaffolds/supports to grade level math content/practices through core instruction. If students have been provided with appropriate opportunities and supports to demonstrate grade level content/practices then:

"Below grade level" or "struggling in math," for purposes of math acceleration under House Bill 23-1231, is defined as a gap between a student's current level of math achievement, in one or more math standards*, and that expected of all students in that grade, at that time, as determined by a body of evidence.

*When assessing a student’s content knowledge, a standard is only an area of concern if a student is consistently struggling (struggling in terms of needing intervention, not productive struggle). Areas of concerns will fall into one of five standards (as defined by the Colorado Academic Standards in Mathematics): 


  • Number and Quantity
  • Algebra and Functions 

  • Data, Statistics and Probability
  • Geometry  

  • Mathematical Practices 

Guidance for determining students who are below grade level or struggling in math at the school or school district level

Schools and school districts are encouraged to use a body of evidence to inform their determination of whether a student is below grade level or struggling in math, what the student's strengths are and where the student requires support. This body of evidence will look different across grade levels and may include a range of data. National Research Council’s (NRC) defined five “strands” of mathematical proficiency can be a useful tool in identifying the interwoven and interdependent nature of mathematical proficiency, and where students may be struggling:

  • Conceptual Understanding: Comprehension of mathematical concepts, operations and relations.

  • Procedural Fluency: Skill in carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently and appropriately.

  • Strategic Competence: Ability to formulate, represent and solve mathematical problems.

  • Adaptive Reasoning: Capacity for logical thought, reflection, explanation and justification; and

  • Productive Disposition: Habitual inclination to see mathematics as sensible, useful and worthwhile, coupled with a belief in diligence and one’s own efficacy

Data Sources, Considerations and Examples

The following information describes potential data sources suitable for inclusion in a body of evidence, both for supporting school improvement and students. Schools and school districts are encouraged to include measures that address the full breadth of the Colorado Academic Standards in Mathematics, including Mathematical Practices, in their body of evidence.


Nationally normed interim, screening, diagnostic or progress monitoring assessments

  • Considerations: Schools and school districts are encouraged to make accommodations for students who receive instructional accommodations.

  • Examples: List pending review, possibly use the Local Assessment Tool in the Request to Reconsider

Required State Assessments

  • Considerations: These state assessments are only administered in grades 3-8, 9-10, and 11. Schools or school districts may want to reference these performance level descriptors to provide context for scale scores.

  • Examples: CMAS, PSAT, SAT


School- or district-created assessment

  • Considerations: Schools and districts are encouraged to:

  1. Design and use assessments that address the full breadth of the Colorado Academic Standards for Mathematics, including Mathematical Practices.
  2. Provide opportunities for educators to score and review student work collaboratively.
  • Examples: Common district assessments, assessment tools included with curriculum materials used by the school or school district

Student self-assessment and/or parent/caregiver input

  • Considerations: 

  1. Student self-assessment may increase student accountability, develop students' ability to self-evaluate and offer more authentic assessment.
  2. Parent/Caregiver input can increase the school-home connection.
  • Examples: Student led conference, student reflection, parent/caregiver observation checklist


  Teacher observation and grades

  • Considerations:

    1. Below grade level in math: Teacher routinely adapts the assessments, as appropriate and allowable, to address a student’s needs. Further adaptations may be made to instructional content to support the student’s accessibility and learning needs.
    2. On grade level in math: Student uses all materials as presented in the curriculum.
    3. Above grade level in math: Teacher routinely provides enrichment work to challenge the student, adds challenge questions to assessments, or provides other material beyond the scope of the curriculum.
  • Examples: Teacher observation checklist, end of term grades, progress grades, evaluation of student projects


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