Senate Bill 163 and the State Board of Education
“The state board is responsible for overseeing the Colorado Department of Education, which works with the state’s 178 school districts to put in place education legislation. The board is also charged with rating schools, and in the coming months it will be responsible for deciding on sanctions for the state’s poorest-performing schools that have failed to improve.” (Oct. 18, 2016) http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2016/10/18/colorado-teachers-union-reform-groups-find-common-ground-on-shifting-political-power-on-state-board/#.WAeGhPkrLIW
As (too many?) folks meet (too often?) to discuss Colorado’s response to the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, in the (realistic?) hope we can, according to CDE, “develop a plan that is understood and can be publicly supported by all” (Letter on ESSA from Associate Commissioner Barbara Hickman on 7/12/16), I ask you to take a look back–at what we agreed to seven years ago–on one key policy: the accountability of our public schools.
The Education Accountability Act of 2009 had bipartisan support at the Colorado legislature. After the Senate “accepted House amendments” it “repassed” SB 163 by a vote if 28-5. http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2009/05/01/accountability-bill-heads-to-governor/ (See box for co-sponsors)
BY SENATOR(S) Hudak and King K., Bacon, Boyd, Gibbs, Groff, Heath, Hodge, Morse, Newell, Romer, Sandoval, Schwartz, Shaffer B., Spence, Tochtrop, Williams, Carroll M., Penry, White; also REPRESENTATIVE(S) Middleton and Massey, Ferrandino, Fischer, Frangas, Gardner B., Labuda, Merrifield, Pace, Pommer, Ryden, Scanlan, Schafer S., Solano, Stephens, Summers, Todd, Vigil. https://www.cde.state.co.us/sites/default/files/documents/cdedepcom/download/pdf/senatebill163.pdf
Last I looked, SB 163 is still the law. (See Article 11, Education Accountability, under Colorado School Laws.)
I hope Another View encourages questioning and rethinking, but my sense is our short-term commissioner, Rich Crandall, overstated what ESSA would—or should–mean.
Last April 13, Chalkbeat Colorado’s headline read:
Commissioner Crandall wants Colorado to rethink everything from tests to teacher recruitment
Nic Garcia opened his article this away: “Colorado education chief Richard Crandall wants to use newfound freedom from federal regulations to craft a long-term vision for the state’s education community.”
Crandall—Rich, we hardly knew ye!—was not alone in stressing freedom and flexibility in ESSA. Many make equally inflated claims suggesting ESSA is a revolutionary change. We hear echoes of the Sons of Liberty—Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry—protesting the tyranny of No Child Left Behind (or the intrusive Race to the Top, depending on your politics.) And now control is back in our hands. Victory!
Sorry folks—it always was, and is, in our hands. One example: Coloradans passed Senate Bill 163. Not imposed from on high by George W. Bush or Barack Obama or the U.S. Department of Education.
My question: yes, ESSA allows for some rethinking, but do we still affirm what SB 163 set out to do? Or do we believe—yes, a rhetorical question—that anything goes as long as parents feel good about sending enough kids to a school? (See box for state board’s decision on Hope On-Line last July.) See the Addendum for what SB 163 itself states the State Board of Education SHALL do.
Freedom from Accountability? Freedom from SB 163?
State Board of Education and Hope Online Learning Academy “The State Board of Education on Thursday blocked Aurora Public Schools’ efforts to kick a struggling online charter school out of the district’s boundaries, saying that parent choice trumped the school’s poor performance on state tests.” http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2016/07/07/hope-online-gets-reprieve-from-state-board-will-continue-operating-in-aurora/#.WA4k1fkrLIU
Another View #149 made a different argument.
“Our job continues to be to find that balance, to encourage ‘new and effective methods of educating children that are proven to be effective….’ And when a specific model does not prove effective, to admit it. And to act. No need to invite kids to bad schools.”
In 2009, having passed legislation to create standards in 1993, and assessments to measure achievement and growth in 1998, we passed SB 163 to provide the key third leg: to insist that there would be “support” and (if necessary) “intervention” for districts and schools that showed chronic low performance. In essence, we passed a bill giving some teeth to the standards and assessments—saying that we believe we owe our students good public education, and when that is not offered, there would be real consequences.
Are we rethinking that?
Our ESSA discussions address innumerable topics. I speak to a more narrow – but crucial—point.
If SB 163 is the law, are we carrying it out in good faith?
Do we think it needs fixing?
Do we think the whole idea of schools and districts being accountable to the state is flawed?
Do we think parent choice trumps Senate Bill 163, and that the state board is not “responsible for deciding on sanctions for the state’s poorest-performing schools that have failed to improve”?
Summary of SB 09-163 (Accountability Alignment)*
Comment – Nov. 2016
The Accountability Alignment Bill builds upon and incorporates:
• HB-07-1048, which established student academic growth as the cornerstone of Colorado’s educational accountability system
• SB-08-212, which establishes readiness for Postsecondary and Workforce success as Colorado’s overarching goal for all students
• SB-00-186, by updating its core concepts in recognition of lessons learned and new technology, while retaining its high expectations and accountability for student results
• Revised district accreditation process established by CDE in 2008 in cooperation with school districts throughout the state
• Approval by the U.S. Department of Education of the Colorado Growth Model for AYP purposes
· To be fair to schools where
students arrive performing well below grade level, it is good that we emphasize growth. But let’s not succumb to the notion that growth is all that matters. The ultimate goal for accountability remains: to assess if our students meet our standards.
· “Readiness for Postsecondary
Success” is a much higher expectation than graduating from high school. (See remediation rates.)
The major purposes of the bill include:
1. Aligning conflicting accountability systems into a single system that passes federal muster
2. Modernizing and aligning reporting of state, district and school performance information
3. Creating a fairer, clearer and more effective cycle of support and intervention
4. Enhancing state, district and school oversight of improvement efforts
· OK, we had then and still have
federal guidelines. But NCLB did not, nor does ESSA, create mandates that conflict with Colorado’s affirmation that public education should be accountable. We chose to have system that is accountable. (And still do, yes?)
· Intervention. A necessary
consequence, in some cases.
1. Align conflicting accountability systems through common performance indicators, enabling a single accountability system for state and federal purposes
· Establishes an expanded set of State Performance Indicators for the state, districts and schools
-Student academic growth (measured by the Colorado Growth Model)
-Student achievement levels (measured by the percent of students scoring advanced, proficient, partially proficient and unsatisfactory
-Extent of achievement gaps based on income and ethnicity
-Postsecondary readiness (measured by graduation rates and ACT/PWR)
· Performance indicators selected to be consistent with the revised district accreditation process and federal expectations
· Requires the Colorado State Board of Education to adopt statewide targets on each and report results
· Not CSAP anymore, and questions
on PARCC persist, but “a single accountability system” still matters, yes? Or do we allow 179 districts or 1,850 schools to develop their own measures of assessment? We are not OK with proficiency in Denver or Divide being equal to partially proficient or unsatisfactory in Dolores or Durango, true?
· “Establishes an expanded set of
State Performance Indicators” – Of course we should do our best to improve our indicators. Thanks, ESSA, for encouraging this. But let’s agree we can’t expand forever; given their limits, the indicators have value. Yes?
2. Modernize and align reporting through 21st century technology and improved public disclosure and access
• Builds on the highly interactive Colorado Growth Model displays to provide State Performance Reports, District Performance Reports and School Performance Reports
- Provide results on the state education performance indicators and data required by state and federal law
Teaching grades 7-8 (ages ago!) in 2002-2005, I had CSAP results for my 7th graders in August, the same students I would then teach in 8th grade. Useful and timely. Sadly, 21st technology & PARCC have not improved matters. Let’s fix this.
3. Enhance oversight of improvement strategies for low-performing districts and schools supported by a State
Review panel appointed by commissioner
• Creates authority for the Commissioner to appoint a State Review Panel to evaluate district and school improvement strategies and make recommendations on needed interventions
Done. CDE and the State Review Panel spend enormous time and effort to carry this out. But surely we can acknowledge that “recommendations on needed interventions” often prove insufficient for real change to occur.
4. Create a fairer, clearer and more effective cycle of support and intervention
• Provide high quality CDE service and support:…
• Assign district accreditation categories and school improvement categories based on results related to state targets…
• Align district accreditation categories with levels of support and improvement required while retaining six levels of performance categories, (including)
- Level 6: Unaccredited – State Board determines whether situation warrants district reorganization, external management, conversion to innovative school or school zone status, conversion to a charter school or school closure
· Done, to a degree.
· To be done?
*From 2-page summary at CDE’s website – dated May 7, 2009
Another View is a newsletter by Peter Huidekoper Jr. Comments are welcome. 303-757-1225 - firstname.lastname@example.org
From SB 163 – 09 - CONCERNING THE EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM https://www.cde.state.co.us/sites/default/files/documents/cdedepcom/download/pdf/senatebill163.pdf
(All bold mine)
22-11-207. Accreditation categories - criteria - rules.
(1) THE STATE BOARD SHALL PROMULGATE RULES TO ESTABLISH ACCREDITATION CATEGORIES (p. 29)
(2) THE STATE BOARD SHALL PROMULGATE RULES ESTABLISHING OBJECTIVE, MEASURABLE CRITERIA THAT THE DEPARTMENT SHALL APPLY IN DETERMINING THE APPROPRIATE ACCREDITATION CATEGORY FOR EACH SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THE INSTITUTE, PLACING THE GREATEST EMPHASIS ON ATTAINMENT OF THE PERFORMANCE INDICATORS. (p. 29-30)
22-11-208. Accreditation - annual review - supports and interventions - rules.
(4) THE STATE BOARD BY RULE SHALL SPECIFY HOW LONG A SCHOOL DISTRICT OR THE INSTITUTE MAY REMAIN IN AN ACCREDITATION CATEGORY THAT IS BELOW ACCREDITED; EXCEPT THAT THE STATE BOARD SHALL NOT ALLOW A SCHOOL DISTRICT OR THE INSTITUTE TO REMAIN AT ACCREDITED WITH PRIORITY IMPROVEMENT PLAN OR BELOW FOR LONGER THAN A TOTAL OF FIVE CONSECUTIVE SCHOOL YEARS BEFORE REMOVING THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S OR THE INSTITUTE'S ACCREDITATION AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 22-11-209. (p. 31)
(d) THE STATE BOARD BY RULE SHALL ESTABLISH THE TIME FRAMES IN WHICH THE DEPARTMENT SHALL REVIEW SCHOOL DISTRICT AND INSTITUTE PERFORMANCE AND DETERMINE AND REPORT EACH SCHOOL DISTRICT'S AND THE INSTITUTE'S APPROPRIATE ACCREDITATION CATEGORY…. (p. 32)
22-11-209. Removal of accreditation - recommendation - review - appeal - rules.
(3) BASED ON THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT, THE COMMISSIONER, AND THE STATE REVIEW PANEL, THE STATE BOARD SHALL DETERMINE WHETHER TO REMOVE A SCHOOL DISTRICT'S OR THE INSTITUTE'S ACCREDITATION. IF THE STATE BOARD REMOVES A SCHOOL DISTRICT'S OR THE INSTITUTE'S ACCREDITATION, THE STATE BOARD SHALL NOTIFY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OR THE INSTITUTE OF THE ACTIONS THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OR THE INSTITUTE IS REQUIRED TO TAKE. (p. 36)
22-11-210. Public schools - annual review - plans - supports and interventions - rules.
(5) (a) IF A PUBLIC SCHOOL FAILS TO MAKE ADEQUATE PROGRESS UNDER ITS TURNAROUND PLAN OR CONTINUES TO OPERATE UNDER A PRIORITY IMPROVEMENT OR TURNAROUND PLAN FOR A COMBINED TOTAL OF FIVE CONSECUTIVE SCHOOL YEARS, THE COMMISSIONER SHALL ASSIGN THE STATE REVIEW PANEL TO CRITICALLY EVALUATE THE PUBLIC SCHOOL'S PERFORMANCE AND DETERMINE WHETHER TO RECOMMEND:…. (p. 40)
(b) THE STATE REVIEW PANEL SHALL PRESENT ITS RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COMMISSIONER AND TO THE STATE BOARD. TAKING THE RECOMMENDATIONS INTO ACCOUNT, THE STATE BOARD SHALL DETERMINE WHICH OF THE ACTIONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH (a) OF THIS SUBSECTION (5) THE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD FOR A DISTRICT PUBLIC SCHOOL OR THE INSTITUTE FOR AN INSTITUTE CHARTER SCHOOL SHALL TAKE REGARDING THE PUBLIC SCHOOL AND DIRECT THE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD OR INSTITUTE ACCORDINGLY. (p. 41)