The Adams 14 school district will likely face more state intervention, after the struggling district failed to meet its goals to raise achievement in various areas, including state tests.
Preliminary state ratings released by the Colorado Department of Education Monday morning showed some bright spots in the district’s performance, but overall, it was not enough to add up to a better rating in the state’s five-tier system.
Despite that, district officials spent the day celebrating at three schools that earned the state’s highest rating. Out of the district’s 11 schools, three is the most the district has ever had in the top tier.
“Everyone should be proud of the progress being made at these schools, which is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our students, families and staff,” read a statement from Superintendent Javier Abrego. “While it is important to celebrate these successes, we must also take ownership of the unacceptable and insufficient growth and pace of improvement across the district. Adams 14 will work alongside the state to determine the best outcome for students, staff and families.”
Supt. Abrego, Board Pres. Quintana celebrate Alsup students, staff & parents for receiving a green or Performance school rating, the highest rating a school can receive in Colorado. #Adams14 has 3 green schools this year, a first for this district in recent history. pic.twitter.com/iFFG4u1IyV— Adams 14 School District (@adams14schools) August 27, 2018
Districts can appeal before the state finalizes the preliminary ratings. Adams 14 officials said they will file appeals for at least three school ratings. If successful, the state could also change the district’s rating.
The 7,500-student district north of Denver has suffered instability and low performance for years. Current Superintendent Javier Abrego joined the district in 2016, making bold promises that he would help the district improve within two years — and telling the community they should hold him to it.
Monday, Abrego said he has kept his word, but said he will look to reach the goal of having no schools in the bottom two categories of ratings by 2019.
“We’re happy with the progress,” Abrego said. “It’s never been done here. We’ve never had this kind of success.”
In the changes the state had already required, the district was to work with an outside partner to improve curriculum and teacher training. The district was also to create a better monitoring system for its schools so it could respond faster when things aren’t going well in a school. Some of those changes were slow to roll out.
State test scores released two weeks ago had given district officials an indication that the ratings wouldn’t be what they were hoping for, and officials had said at that time that they were starting to prepare for another hearing with the state.
The process will be new. State officials Monday said they don’t have the process mapped out yet, but will seek State Board of Education feedback next month.
In spring 2017, Colorado held its first hearings under new laws to come up with plans to improve schools and districts that had more than five successive years of low performance. For each one, the state set different timeframes and deadlines for improvement. Of the districts that had state hearings, Adams 14 is the first district to fail to sufficiently improve by its deadline.
The state now may take further action, which can include actions as drastic as ordering schools to be closed or merging a district with a higher-performing one.
State officials said Monday that the State Board of Education could choose to let the district continue rolling out its plans, make changes to those plans, or the state could direct some other intervention.
Besides the district, Adams City High School, which was under a separate state intervention plan, but with the same timeframe, will also have to face the state again. Although the school improved from the lowest rating to “priority improvement,” it failed to meet state goals.
Two schools on state plans in Pueblo 60 — Heroes Middle School and Risley International Academy — also have preliminary ratings that would require them to have another state hearing this year so officials can review the plans.
Adams 14 faces an additional problem, with another of its schools that has reached its limit of low ratings. Central Elementary has a preliminary state rating of “priority improvement,” which if finalized, will mean it will be placed under a state improvement plan.
Central Elementary is one of the schools that was working with Beyond Textbooks, the partner that Adams 14 paid to work with low-performing schools as part of its state-ordered improvement plan.