A+ Colorado Public Comment: Raise the Bar for Kids

Public Comment September 11, 2019
Colorado State Board of Education

Good Morning Board Chair and members of the Colorado Board of Education. I am Van Schoales the President of A+ Colorado, a research organization committed to improving the quality of our public schools.

I am here to thank you for public discussion regarding the need to need to better align our state school ratings with the state’s educational standards.

We believe there is a significant disconnect to what our state has set as the standard and the measures for what is an effective school.

There are far too many schools that are rated good yet students in these schools are neither reading at standard nor do they have the growth necessary to get them to reading at grade level in a reasonable time.

And at the same time there is a huge difference between schools in the 50th percentile and those in the 90th percentile. We must do more to recognize, understand these EFFECTIVE outliers and support more schools to get there. Growth to standard is the critical measure for knowing how much value a school is adding to a student’s learning.

We believe that it is critical that the bar be set to balance high expectations with what is possible.

A+ Colorado strongly agrees with you to set the growth to standard bar to two years. Our schools must be expected to get students to standard in a reasonable amount of time, otherwise why have the standard? Thank you for your leadership on this important issue.

It is critical that Colorado be able to shed light on those schools that are making progress and also on identifying schools that need help.

We set the bar high for students; we should set the bar high for adults.

We also want to thank CDE for doing some great work in their turnaround network and recognize that there is a need for more resources for these schools and districts when they have great leadership and a solid plan.

We need to support school improvement in the context in which we operate — that means that unfortunately we don’t have financial resources to invest in every school that needs it, but schools should be focused on continuous improvement regardless of whether or not they’re receiving funding aligned with their rating.

Students and families depend on this improvement and the system must signal to them how their schools are doing.

And last understanding that much of this constrained by state law but more must be done to communicate to families and their communities about how are schools are performing. Our current rating descriptions make little or no sense to most people. Priority Improvement? Is that good or bad?

Thanks for listening.