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Accountability Pause for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 School Years

Update on Accountability for 2022-23: 

To date, legislation or state board rules have not yet been passed to alter accountability for the 2022-23 school year.  In December 2021, the State Board of Education passed resolutions to publicly share members’ thinking for accountability next year.  These resolutions are not binding and were intended to provide a starting place for statewide discussion.  A summary with more details can be found here.

Colorado is working to submit waivers to the U.S. Department of Education to make some adjustments to the state’s approach to identifications in 2022-23.  A draft will be available soon for public comment.


In response to disruptions created by COVID-19, Colorado has paused the performance frameworks for two school years (2020-21 and 2021-22). On March 16, 2021, the Governor signed HB 21-1161 into law which paused the release of new frameworks for a second year. The department has also applied for and received waivers from the U.S. Department of Education to get additional flexibility on federal accountability requirements and use of funds. 

This webpage provides the latest decision on how the pause will work; it will continue to be updated as events unfold and new policy decisions are made. [Last updated February 8, 2021]

Description of the Framework Pause

While similar to many of the practices used for the 2020-21 pause, there will be some key differences in 2021-22. 

  • For 2021-22, district and school plan types were rolled over from 2020-2021 school year (which were rolled over from 2019). See the next section for an explanation on the hold process for ESSA identifications.
  • Districts and schools (including alternative education campuses) did not receive a 2021 performance framework. Preliminary and final reports were not made available.
  • While not available in 2020-21, a new request to reconsider process was made available in 2021-22 only to schools and districts on the accountability clock (i.e., Priority Improvement, Turnaround). This was different from previous years when the process was open to all districts regardless of plan type. While eligible schools and districts could request a new plan type, their status on the accountability clock was not adjusted. For example, a school with a Priority Improvement - Y3 plan type could move to Improvement - Y3. Two consecutive frameworks at Improvement or higher still need to be earned to fully exit performance watch. The state board approved improved plan types for 14 schools in January 2022. 
  • Improvement planning continues. Reminder: All improvement plans were due to CDE by October 15, 2021, for public posting unless eligible for biennial flexibility. CDE reviewed plans for identified schools and districts (i.e., Performance Watch, ESSA Comprehensive Support) and has shared feedback through the online UIP system. See more details and provide feedback here
  • Training and supports will continue to be available upon request via phone and webinar through the remainder of the 2021-22 school year. The department will continue to release a listing of opportunities. 
  • Many of the policy adjustments for 2021-22 were based upon the recommendation of the COVID-19 Policy Implications Stakeholder group. 

For Districts with Identified Schools through State or Federal Accountability

This section is aimed at districts and schools on Performance Watch under the state system (i.e., Priority Improvement, Turnaround, On Watch) and/or schools identified for support and improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including Comprehensive Support and Targeted Support.

State Performance Watch 

  • Schools and districts on Performance Watch (i.e., Priority Improvement, Turnaround, On Watch) retained their Performance Watch year without advancing (e.g., a school on Year 4 of the accountability clock in 2019-20 remained on Year 4 in 2020-21 and continued at Year 4 in 2021-22). This held true even for those schools and districts that participated in the special 2021-22 request to reconsider process. 
  • The State Board will not hold any Year 5 hearings because schools and districts did not advance on the clock in 2021-22. It may hold hearings where existing orders require charges or where progress monitoring warrants it.
  • Progress monitoring will continue for sites that have received directed action from the State Board of Education. The department has contacted districts about scheduling optional State Review Panel visits and optional presentations to the State Board of Education. 

Federal Identification 

  • In accordance with the state's approved ESSA waiver, schools identified in 2019-20 for Comprehensive (CS) or Targeted Support (TS) will maintain their 2019 identification category and will remain eligible for support. No new identifications will be made until fall 2022. 
  • Only schools identified as CS based on graduation rates can exit the 2019-2020 identification list, if they meet the exit criteria based on recent graduation data (either 4- or 7-year graduation rate above 67%). Additionally, districts have the option to exit schools identified as TS in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 through the 2020-2021 Consolidated Application. However, all TS schools identified in 2019-2020 will remain on the ESSA support and improvement list and will be eligible for supports in 2021-2022. The list of ESSA identified schools on the CDE website will be updated in early fall to reflect these changes. Schools remaining on the updated list will be required to comply with ESSA improvement planning requirements, which were not impacted or changed by the waiver. 

Continued Support 

  • Schools identified for support and improvement under ESSA (both CS and TS) in 2019 or through the state accountability clock will continue to be eligible for supports and funding through the EASI grants 2021-22. Continue to work with your assigned support coordinator.