High-Performing Schools and Students
Excellent schools don’t just happen. They are carefully built by educators, community leaders, and policymakers who understand that the most important asset for our future is our children’s education today. We know that there are several key elements needed to make great schools, including excellent teaching, high standards, and meaningful assessments of students’ achievement and growth. These elements work together in a supportive system to improve readiness for college and career for every student in Colorado, regardless of zip code.
The Children’s Campaign is committed to supporting and advancing a number of educational policies including meaningful standards and assessments, school and district accountability, innovation and turnaround schools, competency-based graduation guidelines, and school choice.
Meaningful Academic Standards and Assessments
In 2008, the legislature established the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids (CAP4K) to create new standards and assessments and align expectations from preschool to post-secondary education. CAP4K required the revision of academic standards and design of a new state assessment system, including a school readiness assessment. The Colorado Academic Standards were fully implemented in the 2013-2014 school year, and the first year of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment was administered in Spring 2015.
Learn more about Colorado’s Academic Standards and aligned assessments, or take a look at a timeline of other educational policies being implemented. In the 2015 legislative session, the Colorado General Assembly approved HB 15-1323, which made several changes to the state testing system. And in January, 2017, the Children’s Campaign partnered with Climb Higher Colorado and Stand For Children Colorado on the report Statewide Testing in Colorado: Where it Came From and Why It Matters. Read the full report or an executive summary.
School and District Accountability
The Education Accountability Act of 2009 (Senate Bill 09-163) created an education accountability system that tracks the overall performance of every public school and district throughout the state by authorizing annual reviews and implementing improvement plans and accreditation categories. The Children’s Campaign believes there is value in a fair accountability system that ensures equity and transparency and allows performance comparisons to be made between students, schools, and districts within the state.
Innovation and Turnaround Schools
The Innovation Schools Act (SB 08-130) created a standard process for schools, groups of schools, and districts to apply for waivers from various state laws and regulations. The goal of the law is to give schools and districts more freedom to design their own programs to improve student achievement.
The Children’s Campaign recognizes the urgent need for dramatic school and district turnaround in Colorado and the development of talent ready to make the kinds of changes that are necessary. Efforts to turn around under-performing schools are making gains, including successes in Far Northeast Denver and the Westminster 50 school district. However, not every district working on turning around schools has a strategy that is working.
The Children’s Campaign considers it imperative that what Colorado students learn in high school prepares them for college or the workforce. It is estimated that by 2020, 74 percent of Colorado’s jobs will require some form of post-secondary education. The path to earning a post-secondary certificate or degree begins in the K-12 system. At the same time, one in four Colorado high school students fails to graduate in four years. For students of color, only 70 percent of our black students and about 65 percent of Hispanic students graduated from high school on time in 2013, compared to 83 percent of white students.
Successful implementation of these guidelines is an important step towards ensuring students do not need remediation when they reach college. While the remediation rate for Colorado students has declined in the last five years, it is still too high at 34 percent. The Children’s Campaign supports the Department of Education as it works to implement the guidelines and guarantee that a high school degree signifies true readiness for life and careers.
Learn more about Graduation Guidelines on the CDE’s website. Find info including a fact sheet, timeline and FAQs.
In 1993, Colorado was the third state in the country to pass legislation opening up school choice and options. In 2016, charter schools served more than 108,000 students in more than 225 schools across the state. Whether families choose traditional or alternative forms of education (including charter and online learning), we must ensure that all educational experiences offered are of the highest quality and drive positive outcomes for our students. The Children’s Campaign has been a lead supporter of school choice and will continue to advocate for high-quality educational options for all Colorado kids.