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Coalition releases school grades for parents

Colorado parents looking for more user-friendly information about their school’s academic performance last year can now search an updated online database that ranks schools on a familiar A-F grading scale.

ColoradoSchoolGrades.com, developed by a coalition of 18 nonprofits organizations with that generally support accountability-reform efforts, uses data from the Colorado Department of Education and a formula developed by the Center for Education Policy Analysis at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver to compute the grades.

The site was updated this week with the most recent test data from the 2013-14 school year.

The aim is to give every parent an easy-to-understand letter-grade ranking for their school to inform decisions about where to send their students.

Colorado is one of a few states that ranks schools and districts on a variety of metrics that provides quality information to parents, but a report by the Education Commission of the States found that information is not easily accessible to most parents.

From the organization’s press release:

“Parents need clear, concise information to make good school choices for their child,” said Bob Deibel, President and Owner of OfficeScapes and board member at Colorado Succeeds. “Colorado School Grades is a critical tool to provide a first step for any parent making a choice or improving a school.”

For four years, Colorado School Grades has represented an alternative to other school rating systems, which are difficult to navigate or offer watered-down information. For example, the Colorado Department of Education indicates that more than 70 percent of public schools are “top performers,” making it difficult for parents to understand how their school measures up. Colorado School Grades rates schools on a more rigorous curve, so the community can understand which schools are performing at the highest levels.

(Disclosure: Chalkbeat Colorado is a grantee of the Donnel-Kay Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and Anschutz Foundation. Those organizations are part of the coalition that makes up Colorado School Grades.)

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