- Colorado has clearly sought out and respected the feedback from many stakeholder groups, and its “hub and spoke” model for conducting outreach is a thoughtful and extensive approach.
- The state makes a laudable effort at including more students in its accountability system by lowering the threshold at which it includes subgroups for accountability and reporting purposes – including additional ways to capture schools with low-performing subgroups – and creating a methodology for including subgroups when they separately do not meet the minimum number of students required.
- It also provides a strong rationale regarding its content standards and the process used to validate alignment with higher education. This process should be replicated in other states.
- Colorado’s plan for supporting schools recognizes that schools will be at varying levels of readiness to engage with the state and establishes a range of interventions in response. The plan should be commended for its focus on leadership as a target of school turnaround efforts.
- Colorado is proposing to shift to an entirely normative approach, where all indicators and the accountability system itself are based on relative performance, not a predefined standard. That approach may not be sufficiently clear to parents, educators, or other stakeholders, and it means the accountability system has no incentives aligned to the state’s professed goal of college and career readiness for all students.
- The state also lacks coherent goals for its schools, and the ones provided are disconnected from the state’s long-term vision. As a result, the system does not provide schools clear signals about how they need to improve, and it’s particularly problematic for those students who have been historically sidelined as a result of their race, class, and/or life circumstances.
- Colorado’s method of excluding students whose parents opted them out of state tests may undermine the state’s proposed school-rating methodology.
- Colorado has also not finalized a number of decisions in its accountability system, leading to uncertainty about how exactly it will be implemented in practice.