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Colorado delays final decision on HOPE Online, but steers away from closure

HOPE’s elementary has received one of the two lowest ratings from the state for nine years now, despite a state-ordered improvement plan in 2017

A student works at one of Hope Online’s learning centers. (Chalkbeat file photo)

A troubled online elementary school likely will continue to operate its learning centers around Colorado despite nine years of low performance, financial problems, and a recommendation that the school be closed.

Even though some of them had harsh words for school administrators, Colorado State Board of Education members on Thursday seemed uninterested in closing HOPE Online’s elementary school. They delayed a final decision, voting instead to ask the school to come back next month with more information about its finances and whether it can partner with a charter to improve student achievement.

HOPE’s elementary has received one of the two lowest ratings from the state for nine years now, despite a state-ordered improvement plan in 2017. On the most recent state tests, only about 13% of its students were able to meet state standards for reading. Fewer than 6% of the students met standards in math. A state review panel recommended closing the school now — something it has only suggested a handful of times.

“After nine years of underperformance, board reconstitution, and work with an external partner, students are not making the needed academic gains in the HOPE’s elementary school learning centers,” the panel’s recommendation stated.

The State Board of Education has struggled with how to regulate online schools like HOPE. Last year, a divided board first allowed the Aurora school district to close HOPE learning centers within its boundaries, then reversed itself and allowed the centers to stay open. Aurora has cited many of the same concerns that the state review panel found.

Read more at chalkbeat.org.