Across the Street: What is accountability?
At its November meeting, the State Board of Education considered the consequences of the failed performance of Adams 14 school district and two Pueblo middle schools. By law, the board is required to intervene after five years on the “accountability clock.” In 2018, the district and two middle schools entered year eight of continued low scores on the state’s Performance Frameworks.
District and School Performance Frameworks are measurements used for accountability purposes. The legislature holds schools and districts accountable for performance on a consistent set of indicators and measures used throughout the state. The frameworks are also used to select specific support for the lowest performing schools and districts.
In 2009, the Education Accountability Act was passed to provide a process for the State Board of Education to fulfill its constitutional responsibility of supervising the public schools in the state. It provided uniform, useful, credible, and fair academic performance information.
The state board makes annual assessments that use categories of Performance, Improvement, Priority Improvement, and Turnaround to describe the evaluation. Districts also include a “Distinction” for those districts performing above “Performance.” There are five levels for district evaluations and four for schools. With these evaluations, the department of education focuses additional resources and support to the lower two levels: “Turnaround” and “Priority Improvement.”
If a school or district is considered Turnaround or Priority Improvement for five consecutive years, the legislature requires the state board to take measures to improve student outcomes. After five years of additional support from the department, Adams 14 school district did not progress. In November, the school district again came before the board after completing its eighth year with $6.3 million in additional resources and no significant improvement. The state board unanimously voted to have an outside management company take over the district. The local school board will work with the external management group to address the challenges cited by the state board.
Following a signed contract with the external management company, the district will embark on a new direction for improvement. The state board will receive frequent updates following the education department’s visits to the district. If the state board still doesn’t see improvement, other options may be considered.
Two middle schools in Pueblo district 60 are also on year eight of the accountability clock and were directed to acquire external management.
On a more positive note, I attended Jeb Bush’s “Excellence in Educational Reform” conference in Washington D.C. at the beginning of December. The conference, known as “the best education conference in the nation,” brought together state government legislators and educators throughout the nation. I heard about open enrollment and how to best serve parents interested in a variety of school choice options. Ideas were also shared on how to simplify and streamline the process.
There are some exciting and successful programs going on throughout the nation.
Moving on, Jan. 4 begins day one of the 72nd legislative session.
Joyce Rankin represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District on the State Board of Education. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in the 29 counties she represents. The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is across the street from the Capitol. Rankin is also a legislative assistant for State Rep. Bob Rankin.