THE STATE OF COLORADO EDUCATION: Educators, standards both addressed

By: The Gazette
October 14, 2013 Updated: October 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Colorado's most recent school reform efforts:

- Educator Effectiveness Act: Changes the way principals and teachers are evaluated, based on a particular set of quality standards about what it means to be an effective teacher or principal. Half of an educator's annual evaluation is based on student progress. Although it begins this school year, evaluations won't factor into an educator's formal evaluation until next school year.

- Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act (READ): Replaces the Colorado Basic Literacy Act and mandates that students in grades K-3 take assessment tests to determine their reading ability. It focuses on helping students reading below grade level. The first tests were conducted in spring and parents were called in to discuss intervention programs, which are being put in place this year.

- School Readiness Requirements: Requires districts to ensure that all public preschool and kindergarten students receive an individual school-readiness plan. The districts also must perform school-readiness assessments.

- Common Core State Standards: A multistate initiative developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to standardize instruction across the nation. Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards for K-12 in English language arts and mathematics. The concise, single-set standards are designed so that parents, teachers and students have a clear understanding of the expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and math.

- The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC): A consortium of 19 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands is developing a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math, anchored on what it takes to be ready for college and careers. The assessment testing aligns with the new Common Core Standards and will be phased in beginning this spring. TCAPS will be replaced by spring 2015.

- To track student performance and align the new curricula and testing systems, Colorado in May 2010 was awarded a $17.4 million federal stimulus grant to build a statewide education data system, which debuts this school year.

The initiative, Relevant Information to Strengthen Education (RISE), is meant to streamline data collection and track student progress from preschool through college graduation or a postsecondary career. As part of the requirements, all local classes must be recorded and mapped to state course codes.

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