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Focus On Education - May 2021

Focus on Education: CDE's update for legislators

Focus on Education is a monthly newsletter for Colorado legislators on critical issues affecting K-12 education and CDE’s progress implementing state and federal policies.

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Expanded Learning Opportunities Presentation

On Wednesday, April 21, the Senate Education Committee held a hearing on Expanded Learning Opportunities. CDE staff were asked to share an update on funding for various ELOs. The presentation included an overview of district needs related to COVID-19 learning impacts, federal funding including the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, and next steps related to ESSER state reserve ELO funding. The same presentation was given to the House Education Committee on Wednesday, April 28.

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Remote Learning Options for 2021-22

The coronavirus pandemic has helped Colorado understand and think about the role of remote learning. As we look forward to the next school year, districts have had questions about how remote learning, instructional hours and the flexibilities applied to the 2020-21 school year will apply in the future. In response, CDE released remote learning options guidance for 2021-22 to help districts prepare. The guidance explains flexibilities regarding remote learning and addresses instructional hours and funding requirements for the 2021-22 school year.

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Equity Resources

Like many organizations, school districts across Colorado are thinking about the equity implications of COVID-19. Based on growing questions from the field, CDE worked with stakeholders to create equity resources for districts and BOCES. The tools are designed to assist educators in supporting communities that may have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.


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USDE Allows Colorado to Waive Federal Accountability Requirement

Colorado’s request for a waiver from federally required accountability, including identifying schools for support and related reporting for the 2020-21 school year, was accepted by the U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday, April 21. This approval aligns federal accountability with the state accountability pause approved through House Bill 21-1161.

Read the letter from the U.S. Department of Education here.

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MSU Approves MSU's Teacher Preparation Programs

The Colorado State Board of Education approved the reauthorization of Metro State University of Denver’s traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs in elementary education for grades K-6 and early childhood education for ages birth to 8 years old.

The board approved all of MSU Denver’s teacher preparation programs in August 2020 except these two, which were given conditional approval for only the 2020-21 academic year to allow the university to continue implementing changes to scientifically based reading content and instruction. Another review of the elementary and early childhood programs, including a state site visit, was conducted in March 2021. CDE staff and engaged stakeholders found the identified areas for improvement have been met.

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Standards Revision and Review Process

Legislators often have questions about the process and timeline for reviewing and revising the Colorado Academic Standards. The standards set the minimum expectation for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. As specified by state statute, the standards include the following content areas: reading, writing, mathematics, science, history, geography, visual arts, performing arts, physical education, world languages, English language competency, economics, civics, financial literacy, and any other instructional areas the state board might desire to include.

The standards in each of these content areas are reviewed and updated on a cyclical basis. Each content area review is conducted by a standards development committee, which includes educators, business leaders, representation from higher education and parents. CDE content specialists staff the committees, meet with the chair/co-chairs to plan meetings and ensure consistency across committee work plans. These committees make recommendations to the State Board of Education, which approves any updates and revisions. All meetings are open to the public and all meeting notes are shared with the State Board of Education and posted on the CDE website. More details on the timeline, revision phases, and opportunities to engage with the process can be found here.

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