Accountability Committee Seeks Input!

The ESSA Accountability Spoke Committee is seeking input! As parents, it is crucial that we provide feedback as the main stakeholders in education. We’d like to hear from educators and parents in this process to ensure that the ESSA plan for Colorado is truly about our children!


Decision Points

English learner assessment policy (1st year in US)


Colorado’s policy on testing English learners on English language arts assessments in their first year in the U.S.

Supporting Materials


Long-term goals and interim measures


The long-term goals and interim measures that Colorado will use in its accountability system to measure school performance

Supporting Materials


English learner progress measure(s)


How Colorado will define and measure progress towards English language proficiency in statewide accountability

Supporting Materials


“Other indicator” of school quality or student success


How Colorado will define and measure an indicator of school quality or student success to be added to the statewide accountability indicators

Supporting Materials


Minimum number of students


  • The minimum number of students that must in a group before accountability analyses will be conducted for that group and how Colorado will determine the statistical soundness of the minimum number and ensure it will protect personally identifiable information
  • How Colorado will define and include “students from all major race and ethnicity groups” in accountability

Supporting Materials


Method for identifying and exiting schools for support and improvement


The methods and criteria that Colorado will use to identify schools for support and improvement, as well as criteria and timeline for exiting schools

Supporting Materials



For website assistance or questions, please contact: Nazanin Mohajeri-Nelson or Alyssa Pearson

Colorado’s Accountability Laws & ESSA

by Evie Hudak, Colorado PTA Legislative Committee Chair and former State Senator

In 2009, I sponsored two bills designed to update and improve school accountability in Colorado:  SB 09-163, Educational Accountability System, and SB 09-90, Parent Involvement in Education.  As the implementation of these bills has evolved over the years, particularly SB 163, I have become concerned that the intentions behind the bills have been forgotten or misunderstood.  It is especially important to refresh people’s memory about them now that Colorado is planning to implement ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), the federal reauthorization of No Child Left Behind.

As a memo to superintendents from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) said, the purpose of SB 163 was “to create a single, aligned system of educational accountability.”  This alignment was necessary because prior to 2009, schools and districts were subject to THREE separate systems of accountability:

  1. Accreditation by the State Board of Education (SBE)
  2. School Accountability Reports (SARs), required by state legislation
  3. Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), part of No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

In order to achieve the alignment, SB 163 eliminated the SARs and merged AYP with the state Accreditation system of using student longitudinal academic growth and measures of postsecondary readiness – necessitating a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), which Colorado received.  One aspect of AYP that was not waived was the 5-year limit for the lowest-performing schools to show improvement.  Although NCLB applied this 5-year limit only to Title I schools and districts that failed to make AYP, SB 163 applied it to all schools and districts, in order to have it be our statewide accountability system.  The consequences in SB 163 of failing to show adequate improvement after 5 years – such as closing schools, being “reorganized,” having their management taken over, being converted to a charter school – were put into state law because they were the consequences in NCLB.

It is important to note that ESSA requires school improvement in 4 years and instead of AYP has the state create/use its own accountability system (as long as that is approved by the USDE)Therefore, I think that to conform with the original intentions of SB 163, changes should be made to state law to align with ESSA by reducing the period of time for improvement to 4 years, and by removing provisions no longer federally mandated, in particular some of the most severe mandated consequences like closing schools.  CDE is working with a “Hub” committee and several “Spoke” subcommittees to make recommendations for ESSA, and we should wait to see what they recommend.

SB 163, in conjunction with parts of SB 90, also merged other Title I provisions of NCLB with other aspects of our state accountability system, especially the extensive requirements for parent and family engagement in education.  Those are reflected in SB 90 and SB 163, as well as another bill I sponsored, SB 13-193, Increasing Parent Engagement in Public Schools.  One of these requirements was for Title I schools to have a parent advisory committee and develop a “parent compact”; my legislation provided that School Accountability Committees (SACs) incorporate these roles and that parents of Title I students be members of the SACs.  ESSA maintains NCLB’s requirements for parent and family engagement in education.

ESSA requires extensive parent and family engagement in the development of the plan for its implementation, both at the state and the district levels.  A concern I have is that there is only one designated parent on the Hub Committee and very few on any of the Spoke committees.  Furthermore, when CDE conducted its “Listening Tours” on ESSA, no substantial effort was made to invite parents to participate.  PTA is an organization that focuses on parent and family engagement; the National PTA played a strong role in having family engagement provisions incorporated into NCLB and ESSA, and Colorado PTA was particularly influential (by working with Senator Michael Bennet) in work on ESSA.  Yet there was no outreach to Colorado PTA to participate in the Listening Tours or to recruit members to serve on the Hub or Spoke committees.  Additionally, SB 90 and SB 163 require that a member of a school’s parent organization serve on the SAC.  I don’t see any effort to enforce that provision, and I know that very few PTA units are aware of it.

Colorado PTA is willing and eager to help the state, school districts, and schools reach all the goals of ESSA and fulfill the intentions of our state and federal laws.  With the research on the effectiveness of parent and family engagement in boosting student achievement being so compelling, we know that we should do all we can to ensure that parents and families help make our education system serve our children – and our future – well.

Math People

Most people can remember their own school days and recall different groups in school. In the past, there were people who were “math people” and people who just weren’t. The students who were deemed or even deemed themselves “not math people” lost out on some skills that could have led to careers in science and technology.

There are few parents today who don’t have a story to tell about how difficult it is to help their own students with math. The curriculum in use today is a result of extensive study by educational experts.

In fact, due to more rigorous standards being implemented by many states, more students than ever are showing growth and are taking more advanced math classes at earlier ages. Take a look at this infographic produced by the Collaborative for Student Success:



Now, imagine the possibilities of never having a group of students divided into math people and those who don’t have those skills in a future generation where technology and STEM careers are expected to be the greatest need.

It may be your child who benefits from the higher standards, leading to a higher paying career. It may be your child’s best friend who you have grown to love and adore.

Colorado will create 60,000 high-skill and high-wage jobs by 2018 but will generate only 50% of the qualified work force.

Take a look at this study from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration:  stemfinalyjuly14_1

Every parent can agree that they went the best futures possible for their children. Higher wages, way of life, employment opportunities, etc. We all want our children to do better than we have done.

It is becoming very clear that raising standards and improving curriculum materials is leading to growth for our students. That added growth also leads to new possibilities for their futures. Our middle school students in Colorado are the first who have been using the Colorado Academic Standards for their entire educational experience and many districts are noting an increase in once and twice advanced math students.

While we would like to see more resources for parents to help with math at home, for the time being, Khan Academy has some great videos online that parents can use to understand the goals of the curriculum. “Different than when we were in school” does not equal wrong.

Imagine the possibilities for your child and others and never hearing “I’m not a math person” again.

Please take the time to actually look at Colorado’s Academic Standards (which also include common core), developed with real Colorado educators! There’s so much inaccurate information and false information on the internet. People seem to believe it’s more complex than it really is, share the facts!

Become educated on the facts and have conversations that serve Colorado kids!


Take This Survey!

It’s more important than ever to participate as a parent! So many people still have no idea what the Colorado Academic Standards are or what common core is. There’s so much misinformation out there. Read about common core and see the actual the standards here – After you do this, please complete the survey from CDE linked below.

Consistent standards and measurements are important for our students and families. Starting over with a completely new system every few years is disruptive to the educational experience of our students in Colorado. So, please, participate!


CDE Seeks Public Opinions of the Colorado Academic Standards

CDE invites educators, educational leaders, parents, students and the general public to share their perceptions of the Colorado Academic Standards through an online survey available through Nov. 13.  To participate, click here:

The results of the survey will inform the department’s planning for the upcoming review and revision of the standards, required by Senate Bill 08-212, known as Colorado’s Achievement Plan for Kids (CAP4K). The law requires a review and revision of the CAS on or before July 1, 2018 and every six years thereafter.

In addition to the survey on general perceptions of the standards, CDE will launch an online feedback system in November which will enable all Coloradoans to provide specific feedback on every expectation within the 10 content areas included in the Colorado Academic Standards.

In early 2017, CDE will provide comprehensive information about the timeline and phases of the standards review and revision process as well as information about how to become involved.

The survey and online standards feedback system can be found at General questions and comments about the review and revision process can be sent to

Breaking Down ESSA for Parents

Parents, you are the number one stakeholder in education! We need you to get involved and understand ESSA.

Hopefully, if you’re a parent, you’ve heard of ESSA.

If you haven’t, this is the next federal legislation that replaces No Child Left Behind. ESSA stands for Every Student Succeeds Act. Maybe the many acronyms like ESSA, NCLB, ESEA are another reason that the education jargon misses parents and community members who care about kids and public education. As the main stakeholders in public education, this is one of the most important things for you to be involved in and watching closely. We are breaking it down for you here.

History of Federal Education Policy Legislation:

In 1965, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was implemented as part of LBJ’s war on poverty. ESEA established Title I to provide additional resources to support low-income students.

In 1968, additional programs added support for migrant children and neglected and delinquent children. Congress also passed the Bilingual Education Act.

In 1978:, Schoolwide Title I added. Schools with 75% of children in poverty were able to utilize Title I funds for schoolwide activities instead of only on low-income students in the school.

1978 – 1981

  • U.S. Department of Education is established under President Carter
  • Many programs under ESEA are converted into block grants, however Title I is maintained but renamed Chapter 1 under the Reagan administration
  • Reagan-era ESEA reduces regulations & funding

1988: Increased accountability

  • Title I school districts are now required to measure effectiveness of Chapter 1 (Title I) through student test scores
  • Schools that don’t make progress are required to implement school improvement plans

1989: Education Summit

  • President George H.W. Bush hosts education summit with the nation’s governors
  • Pledge to set national education goals and establish federal-state partnership for standards and accountability

1994: Improving America’s School Act

  • States must develop standards and aligned tests for all students
  • Includes definition of Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP)
  • Chapter 1 goes back to Title I

2002: No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act

  • Includes parental involvement/family engagement provisions
  • Requires annual assessments & 100% proficiency in reading and math by 2014
  • Specific interventions are required for schools not meeting AYP
  • Teachers must be “highly qualified”

2002 – 2016: No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

  • Up for reauthorization in 2007
  • Several failed attempts
  • Criticism mounts:
  • –One-size fits all
  • –Too prescriptive
  • -Too focused on student test scores

2009: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)

  • Economic stimulus bill
  • $100 billion in education aid
  • $4 billion in Race to the Top grants
  • $350 million for new tests aligned with Common Core State Standards

2011: NCLB Flexibility Waivers

  • Attempt to ease mandates under NCLB
  • States agree to adopt college & career standards, new educator evaluation systems, and identify additional schools that are underperforming

2011: NCLB Flexibility Waivers

  • 43 States, D.C. and Puerto Rico received waivers
  • Expired on August 1, 2016 under ESSA

And then we waited while our legislators debated:


Finally, our legislators reached an agreement and ESSA was approved in December 2015.

  • ESSA was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015
  • Reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—previously known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
  • ESSA provides greater flexibility to states and school districts to design educational plans and programs
  • With great opportunity, comes great responsibility
  • The goal is for systems to provide more supports for all students and less punitive consequences
  • 8 “titles” in the bill
  • Title I and Title IV contain most of the family engagement provisions
  • In implementation phase

These are the Titles in ESSA:

  • Title I – Basic programs operated by SEAs and LEAs
  • Title II – Teachers, Principals and School Leaders
  • Title III – English Language Learners (ELL)
  • Title IV – 21st Century Schools
  • Title V – State Innovation & Local Flexibility
  • Title VI – Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native Education
  • Title VII – Impact Aid
  • Title VIII – General Provisions


  • U.S. Department of Education is issuing FAQs, proposed regulations, guidance and technical assistance on aspects of the law.
  • Examples: Proposed regulations on state plans, accountability systems and assessments, ESSA Transition FAQs, Children in Foster Care Guidance

The roles of individual states:

  • Develop state plans
  • Educate community
  • Involve stakeholders, including parents!


Stakeholder Engagement

Under ESSA, parents are required to be “meaningfully consulted” and involved in:

  • State and local Title I plans
  • Title II state and local applications
  • Title III state and local plans
  • Title IV-A local applications
  • Title IV-B state applications
  • State and local report cards
  • School improvement plans

People required to be engaged in the process:

  • Governor
  • State legislature
  • State board of education
  • Local educational agencies
  • Representatives of Indian tribes located in the State
  • Teachers
  • Principals & other school leaders
  • Specialized instructional support personnel
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Administrators & other staff
  • Parents

Nationally, what are we hearing from families?

  • No state has more than 3 parents serving on a working group
  • Awareness and level of communication varies among states


Consultation of parents in development of state and local education plans

  • Parents must be involved in school improvement plans
  • Parent-friendly state and local report cards
  • Consultation of parents in Title II, III, and IV plans and applications


What is parent involvement?

“Means the participation of parents in regular, two-way,and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities, including ensuring—

(A) that parents play an integral role in assisting their child’s learning

(B) that parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education at school

(C) that parents are full partners in their child’s education and   are included, as appropriate, in decision-making and on   advisory committees to assist in the education of their child

(D) the carrying out of other activities, such as those described in section 1116.”


Family Engagement Provisions Under ESSA

  • Title I, Sec. 1116: Local family engagement policy and reservation of at least 1% of funds for family engagement
  • Title IV, Part E: Statewide Family Engagement Centers


Title 1 Parent and Family Engagement

  • Written school district and school level parent and family engagement policy
  • Parents must be involved in the development of them
  • Parent-school compacts
  • Agreement on how the school, staff, students and parents will shared responsibility for improving student achievement
  • Reservation of 1 percent of funds for family engagement
  • Use of funds for family engagement:
  • 1.Professional development
  • 2.Home visiting
  • 3.Sharing best practices
  • 4.Collaborating with other organizations
  • 5.Other activities & strategies consistent with the family engagement policy


Title IV-Part E: Statewide Family Engagement Centers

  • Formerly the Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC) program in No Child Left Behind
  • Competitive grant program
  • Authorized at $10 million

The program is authorized at $10 M in ESSA. Unfortunately, the program has not been funded in either the House or Senate labor, health and education appropriations bills, however it is a key priority of National PTA to secure funding for this important grant program. We will continue to push Congress to fund this program over the coming months.

Statewide Family Engagement Centers have three core functions to strengthen family engagement and family-school partnerships that promote student achievement and school improvement efforts:

  1. Work with state and local level agencies to support systemic family engagement initiatives in schools and school districts
  1. Deliver professional development on evidence-based and effective family engagement strategies to schools, districts and educators
  1. Provide direct services to families on how to effectively work with their child’s school and teachers


  • State must adopt challenging state academic standards and state designed long-term and interim progress goals in math, reading and science
  • States can adopt alternative standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities


  • Annual assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts in grades 3-8 and once in grades 9-12.
  • Science assessment once in grades 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12.
  • States must provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities
  • States can provide alternative assessments for students with most cognitive disabilities (No more than 1% of the total number of students in the state can be assessed using the alternative assessment)

Results from student assessments will also be disaggregated by student subgroups such as race, ethnicity, low income status, students with disabilities, English Language learners, gender and migrant status which was also required under NCLB.

  • At least 95% of all students—or of any subgroup of students— must participate in the state assessment
  • States must include participation rates in their accountability systems
  • States and districts determine consequences for not meeting participation rate*

Accountability Systems

  • States are required to develop accountability systems that feature multiple measures or indicators of student growth and achievement.
  • New systems need to be in place by SY17-18
  • Identify and meaningfully differentiate schools based on indicators

State accountability systems must include multiple measures of student achievement, but at minimum they must consist of:

  1. Student achievement on annual assessments
  2. Another academic indicator
  3. English language proficiency
  4. At least one additional indicator of school quality or student success

School quality and student success indicators can include:

  • Student and educator engagement
  • Student access to and completion of advanced course work
  • School climate and safety
  • Attendance

States can have more than one additional indicator of school quality or student success

  • Indicator must allow for meaningful differentiation in school performance” and “is valid, reliable, comparable, and statewide
  • Must also be disaggregated by subgroups

For example, Connecticut’s Next Generation Accountability System has several school quality/student success indicators. A few of them are:

  • Chronic absenteeism
  • Post-secondary enrollment
  • Physical fitness
  • Arts access

Connecticut’s Next Generation Accountability System has 12 indicators. 

  1. Academic achievement status measured by state assessments
  2. Academic growth
  3. Assessment participation rate
  4. Chronic absenteeism
  5. Preparation for postsecondary and career readiness – coursework
  6. Preparation for postsecondary and career readiness – exams
  7. Graduation – on track in ninth grade
  8. Graduation – four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate – all students
  9. Graduation – six-year adjusted cohort graduation rate – high needs
  10. Postsecondary entrance rate – all students (college enrollment)
  11. Physical fitness
  12. Arts access

School Improvement

  • ESSA requires that States must identify and provide support and interventions for the lowest performing 5% of all Title I schools, those who fail to graduate more than a third of their students and Title I schools with low performing subgroup(s) of students. (Must be identified once every 3 years)
  • Parents must be involved in the development and implementation of school improvement plans for those schools identified. This is essential as parents as are a key component of school improvement efforts.
  • Districts must develop plans that include evidence based strategies for school improvement. Includes needs assessment and considers all indicators and identifies resource inequities
  • Two required categories of identification –
  1. Comprehensive support and improvement – lowest 5% and HS grad rates
  2. Targeted support and improvement – one or more subgroups who are underperforming

Report Cards

  • ESSA requires state and local report cards to be publicly available and written in a uniform and understandable format
  • State report cards must be developed in consultation with parents

–Proposed U.S. Dept of ED regulations would also require school district report cards to be developed with parental input

Must include:

  • Description of accountability system
  • Student performance disaggregated by subgroups
  • School identified in need of support & improvement
  • Performance of English Language learners
  • Per-pupil expenditures of federal, state & local funds

ESSA Implementation Timeline

  • NCLB flexibility waivers and state accountability systems under NCLB ended August 1, 2016
  • ED is processing regulations on state plans, accountability systems, reporting and assessments
  • States are engaging stakeholders
  • States must submit new plans to U.S. Department of ED by March 6, 2017 or July 5, 2017. Colorado has chosen the March date.
  • New statewide accountability systems to be developed and in place by SY17-18


As a parent, how would YOU like to participate? Do you feel comfortable participating? How can our state make this accessible to you? What questions do you have?


School Funding in Colorado

With approximately 50 school districts in Colorado putting mill levy and bond issues on the ballot, voters may be wondering why this is happening.

Great Education Colorado has done a phenomenal job over the years in attempting to educate the public about the funding issues. Take a look at their website, specifically the FAQs –

Most recently, some incredible advocates from Grassroots St. Vrain have created a series of short videos to explain issues so everyone can understand them. Take a look below:

Here’s a great one on school funding!

This one explain mill levy overrides for local districts:

And what happened to all that marijuana money?

Finally, this explains why YOU need to help!

Get involved! Chances are, your local school district has a mill and bond on the ballot and could use your help and advocacy for all Colorado kids!