Department of Education Approves Colorado’s ESSA State Plan

Written by: Stephanie Perez-Carrillo
Date Posted: May 11, 2018

Just this week the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) approved Colorado’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan. Colorado was one of the first states in the nation to submit its state plan just over a year ago. However, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) received feedback from the USDOE in August and September of last year stating that there were several areas in the plan that required further clarification, including measures of student achievement, long term goals and interim targets.

The USDOE didn’t approve of Colorado’s original plan for handling opt-outs, in part because the state has been reluctant to penalize schools with low test-participation rates. The draft plan stated that, if schools’ participation rate dipped below 95 percent, it would count non-test takers as “not proficient” for federal accountability purposes. This led to the state developing two different accountability systems for purposes of reporting to the USDOE.

The state plan received both praise and criticism from national and statewide groups. Colorado received praise for engagement with multiple stakeholders in the almost two-year process, for strong rationale regarding its content standards, for its plan to support schools with a wide range of interventions, and for its inclusion of more students in its accountability system by lowering the threshold at which Colorado includes subgroups for accountability and reporting purposes.

The plan did not, however, include recommendations from the Equity in Colorado Coalition, a broad coalition of education and civil rights advocates who outlined the importance of opportunities for family and community engagement, support for emerging multilingual students, and data reporting to name a few. The group continues to focus its energy on the implementation of the plan over the course of the next few months.

ESSA replaced the No Child Left Behind Act in December 2015 and aims to drive more equitable outcomes in the public education system. It provides Colorado with opportunities to reinforce its investment in ALL students, ensuring they have the opportunity to thrive.

Read more about ESSA state plans and how they fare here.

Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

About Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

Stephanie works as a Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, she worked as a Public Policy Fellow at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado – where she found her love and passion for policy work. Before diving into the policy world, Stephanie served as a Teach for America Corps Member in South Carolina, teaching high school and middle school math. Early on while obtaining her degree in Marketing from Florida International University, she worked in health care as a Patient Advocate and Unit Secretary. When she is not working, you can typically find her at a coffee shop, hanging out with friends, or engaging in some type of outdoor activity.