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New ratings show district shifts

The latest state ratings of Colorado school districts show a drop in the number of districts accredited at the two highest levels while the number of schools with the two lowest types of ratings remained stable.

The greater change from 2011 was a decline in the number of districts rated at the second-highest level and a corresponding increase in districts listed at the third-highest level.

Under a 2009 law, the state annually ranks districts primarily based on student test scores, academic growth of students, graduation rates and ACT scores. Some financial factors also figure out into the ratings.

Based on district scores, the Colorado Department of Education gives each district one of five types of accreditation. The latest ratings are based on districts’ performance in the 2011-12 school year.

Districts are required to develop and implement different kinds of improvement plans based on accreditation level.

Here are the accreditation levels, from best to worst, and the number of districts in each. Numbers for 2011 are listed in parenthesis:

  • Accredited with Distinction – 19 (18)
  • Accredited – 87 (94)
  • Accredited with Improvement Plan – 52 (45)
  • Accredited with Priority Improvement Plan – 19 (17)
  • Accredited with Turnaround Plan – 5 (7)

According to a presentation made to the State Board of Education on Wednesday, 80 percent of districts (145) received the same accreditation as in 2011, 16 moved up one level, 19 moved down one level and one moved down two levels.

The Branson, Manzanola, Lake, Pritchitt and Greeley districts moved down into the priority improvement category.

Westminster and Pueblo City moved up from turnaround to priority improvement.

Aquilar moved down from priority improvement to turnaround, while Karval, Adams 14, Vilas and the Mountain Board of Cooperative Education Services remained in the turnaround category. Karval, Mountain BOCES and Vilas now are entering their fourth year of turnaround status.

The accountability law requires that if a district remains in priority improvement or turnaround for five consecutive years, the Department of Education may revoke accreditation. After further review, the department require reorganization of the district, bring in outside management, convert individual schools to charters or innovation schools, or close schools.

Nineteen districts are rated at the highest level for 2012: Academy 20, Aspen, Cheyenne Mountain, Cotopaxi, Eads, Haxtun, Hinsdale County, Kiowa, Lewis-Palmer, Littleton, Moffat, North Park, Ouray, Park County, Plateau, Ridgway, Steamboat Springs, Swink and Telluride.

Individual schools also are rated under the law. The department will make school rating recommendations to the board in December.

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