Education department officials to visit Steamboat for town hall meeting

If you go

What: Town hall meeting hosted by the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Higher Education

When: 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center

— Officials from the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Higher Education say they want to know what residents think as they work to draft a new statewide assessment program.

A statewide series of town hall meetings will stop in Steamboat Springs from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

It’s part of a 14-city tour that began in January to get public feedback about a new state assessment program as part of the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids, said Jo O’Brien, the state assistant commissioner for standards and assessments for the Department of Education.

The “Preschool to Post­secondary Education Align­ment Act,” or the Colorado Achieve­ment Plan for Kids, was launched after Senate Bill 212 was enacted in 2008. O’Brien said it required that the state adopt new academic standards, which the State Board of Education did in December.

They were revised to include what students should learn each year in school, 21st century skills and workforce readiness. O’Brien said the new standards are simpler and define not only what students should learn, but require they know how to apply what they’ve learned.

“It got real clear about the endgame, which was to get kids ready for a job after school,” she said.

O’Brien said the Colorado Ach­ie­­vement Plan for Kids also required that the Department of Education draft a new assessment program to measure how those new academic standards are being applied.

The new assessment program would replace the Colorado Student Assessment Program O’Brien said. The CSAP currently tests students in grades three through 10. She said the new assessment program, which will be implemented in the next two to three years, would test students from preschool until 12th grade.

Wednesday’s meeting will address how Steamboat students, parents, teachers and community members think the new academic standards should be measured, O’Brien said. She called it a listening tour in which she and Vicki Leal, the assistant director of the Department of Higher Education, will hear ideas about what type of assessment program they would like.

Steamboat is the 12th stop on the 14-stop tour, which has been divided into two parts. They are school readiness and assessments for primary grades (which will be addressed in Steamboat), and postsecondary and workforce readiness and assessments for secondary grades.

O’Brien said the turnout has been great and she would like that to continue Wednesday night.

“We hope a lot of folks from Steamboat come out and give a lot of good ideas, a lot of creative ideas about what they want,” O’Brien said. “We’re open to a lot of different scenarios because we don’t know what the assessment can be.”

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