Joyce Rankin: Legislative accountability clock: Time’s up
May 7, 2017
This week marks the end of Colorado's 2017 legislative session. As of May 7, there were 61 bills addressing K-12 education issues. Of those, 25 did not pass, 23 passed and 10 are pending.
I'm sure we will hear more as the month comes to a close and we understand the impact of the proposed legislation. One of the bills still being discussed at length is Senate Bill 17-267, the Sustainability of Rural Colorado. This bill has many moving parts, including capital construction, K-12 school finance, higher education, state revenue and budget and transportation.
While legislators are looking forward to the end of the session, the state Board of Education is busy with decisions regarding our lowest performing schools and districts. This is because of the School Accountability Act of 2009, which holds state school districts and public schools accountable on "statewide performance indicators." In other words, accountability. It recognizes and rewards areas of success, while identifying and compelling change for areas that need to improve.
The state board must make decisions for dramatic change in these lowest ranked schools and districts.
Understanding accountability measures created by the Colorado Department of Education (is the first step in this process. Stick with me here. CDE created a primary accountability tool called the District and School Performance Frameworks, or DPF/SPF. Accountability includes: academic achievement, growth and post-secondary and workforce readiness.
Based on the assessments one of four basic classifications are assigned to each school: performance, Improvement, priority improvement and turnaround. Beginning in 2010, any school that remained on priority improvement or turnaround status for five consecutive years (one year was paused due to an assessment change) will be evaluated by the commissioner and the State Review Panel (a body of experts in the field of education).
They, along with the school or district, will present plans for dramatic change which the state board can either approve or opt for a different final recommendation. By law, the final determination can be change in management, charter school conversion, innovation status, school closure or, in the case of a district, reorganization. This is the first year for this review process.
All the 12 schools and five districts currently identified must have a hearing, and final determination must be made by June 30. The hearings began in February and can take up to three hours each. Extra meetings have been held in order to accommodate two hearings per day and include up to 1,000 pages of reading. The final determination is made at the subsequent scheduled board meeting. There's a lot of background study involved.
Believe me when I say, I'm not complaining, however, with the close of the legislative session this week and a two-day board meeting, I'm ready for a little time on the Western Slope.
Thank you for the honor to serve.
Joyce Rankin sits on the State Board of Education representing the 3rd Congressional District. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in her district. The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol. She also serves as a legislative assistant for state Rep. Bob Rankin.