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Updated: “Data gap” accountability tweak on way to governor

Updated March 20 – The House Thursday accepted minor Senate amendments and voted 61-4 to repass House Bill 14-1182, the measure that modifies the state’s district and school rating system to adjust for unavoidable problems expected when the state switches to new achievement tests next year.

The bill originally passed the House 59-0, but 14 Republican senators voted no on Wednesday. There has been concern among some GOP members about the flexibility the bill gives to the State Board of Education.

The state Department of Education believes the bill is needed because of timing and data issues that will be created by launch of the new CMAS tests in the spring of 2015.

First, results won’t be available until late in the year or early 2016, meaning the data won’t be on hand when district and school ratings are calculated in the autumn of 2015.

Second, there probably won’t be academic growth data available, because that requires two years of comparable test results. Districts and schools are rated both on test scores and on student growth, along with other factors.

So the bill proposes to do three things:

  • Ratings issued next fall (based on this spring’s tests) will apply to both the 2014-15 and the 2015-16 school years.
  • Districts that later feel they or their schools should have different ratings in 2015-16 can appeal to CDE and provide additional data.
  • The State Board will be given more flexibility on choosing intervention measures for schools that reach the end of the five-year accountability clock. (Existing law already gives the board flexibility for handling districts that reach the end of the clock.

Without HB 14-1182, CDE believes the clock would be “timed out,” giving struggling districts and schools more than five years before state-ordered interventions are required.

A relatively small number of schools and districts would be affected by the bill. Only two districts, the Aurora Public Schools and Weld Re-8, would go into the fifth year in 2015-16, unless they improve their performance before then. Some 31 individual schools in multiple districts are in the same situation.