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Report: States, including Colorado, face many questions as new standards collide with accountability

Those are just some of the lingering questions bureaucrats and lawmakers in Colorado (and across the nation) will have to answer in the coming years as three major policy reform efforts (new standards, teacher evaluations, and school accountability ratings) collide, according to a new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank.

The report, which surveyed five states including Colorado, found “nuances in each state, [but] four trends emerged” on how states are preparing to handle the convergence of policy initiatives.

Those trends include a freeze on accountability measures for teachers and schools, a slow rollout of new assessments, a mix success of professional development on the new standards for educators, and the potential need for more flexibility from the federal department of education on state waivers from the 2002 No Child Left Behind Law.

Colorado lawmakers took a few initial steps toward — hopefully — smoothing out the transition bumps between the state’s previous testing regimen (the TCAPs) and new computer-based tests (the CMAS and PARCC). Student results from those tests are the basis for most accountability policies in Colorado.

But the report, which was released today, includes in part:

State education leaders are facing no easy task as they implement the Common Core, all while ensuring that their efforts are not undercut by anxious teachers or politically motivated lawmakers. … Clearly, policymakers must put serious thought into how previously negotiated accountability systems will mesh with new standards and assessments. If states require additional flexibility, will the federal government allow states to revise their accountability systems accordingly. … How soon the country can return to a high-accountability system depends on how quickly we can move through the current, somewhat awkward phase of early Common Core implementation.

State accountability in the Transition to Common Core