By Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat Colorado
Hundreds of Colorado schools are likely to lose their top rating under changes approved by the State Board of Education Thursday, and those that still qualify likely will serve fewer students in poverty.
Advocates of this change say it’s a step toward aligning Colorado’s school rating system with the realities of student achievement on state tests and gives parents better information about how schools are performing. Opponents, who included many district leaders and the state’s largest teachers union, accused state officials of imposing arbitrary standards for political ends and said that downgrading schools demoralizes teachers and students and makes it harder to recruit effective educators.
The board voted 5-2 to toughen the standards despite vigorous lobbying from people who said they would prefer a complete overhaul of the accountability system to move it away from standardized tests rather than see the bar raised within the current school performance framework.
“If we don’t tell the truth about what is happening to our kids, there are large numbers of kids who will not be served because the information is not out there,” said Board Chair Angelika Schroeder, a Boulder Democrat, who voted in favor of the changes. “This really is about truth-telling.”
State ratings are based on student performance on standardized tests taken in the spring.