After more than seven months of stakeholder meetings and public hearings, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) posted the final draft of a plan that spells out how Colorado will comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Passed in 2016, ESSA is a piece of federal civil rights legislation that seeks to ensure all students have equitable access to a quality education. As you may have previously read, this law grants a tremendous amount of power, but also responsibility, to individual states to ensure access to equitable education for all Colorado students.
Colorado used a process known as the “Hub and Spoke” Committee structure to develop the state plan. Spoke committees focused on topics such as standards, assessments, accountability, effective instruction and leadership, and school improvement. The Hub Committee was responsible for guiding the plan development process and reviewing all plans put together by the Spoke Committees. A variety of stakeholders from across Colorado participated in the Committees. Members of Stand Colorado’s staff served on not only the Accountability “Spoke” Committee but also the main “Hub” Committee.
We worked on the Committees to help shape Colorado’s ESSA plan by fighting for provisions that ensure transparency and accountability while opposing provisions that would have made it more difficult – or even impossible – to understand how our most vulnerable students are being served.
Among the provisions that we, along with our partners, fought to ensure were included, were:
- Data transparency that allows communities to see achievement data for major ethnic and racial groups, as opposed to lumping kids of color together in one group;
- Provisions that allow school districts flexibility in hiring teachers while ensuring that we can track the degree to which at-risk students are being taught by qualified “in field” teachers; and
- Provisions that allow for maximum transparency in how students are achieving and growing academically while protecting student’s privacy.
In comments that we submitted to CDE, we underscored the feedback Stand Colorado staff provided throughout the plan drafting process. Our response is grounded in improving academic outcomes and increasing equity in Colorado’s education system.