CEI 2021-2023 Goal 2

Colorado communities embrace a broader understanding of school quality

Why This Matters

As we peer around the corner, we anticipate increased community demand for new measures of school quality that match locally created graduate profiles and learning experiences that develop these career and life-relevant outcomes.

CEI is supporting Colorado communities who are embracing a broader understanding of school quality and student success, recognizing that traditionally measured academic success is necessary but insufficient. COVID made the limitations of our current system more clear and dire. Many parents, students, and teachers lacked timely or actionable data, which became more acute amid learning loss. And a growing awareness of the need for schools to focus on skills and competencies related to the complex world our students will inherit has rarely felt more pressing. Two policies passed in the 2021 legislative session that should inform and draw attention to this work: 

  1. Funding for the Local Accountability Systems Grant (SB 19-204) was reinstated, meaning funds that were awarded to the 41 district, school, and BOCES grantees – many of whom have been continuing to lead impressive work despite receiving no funding this last year – will now be distributed for the next two years. These grantees are committed to rethinking school quality measures with their communities in ways that provide information their stakeholders both value and can use for continuous improvement.
  2. Colorado passed the accountability systems audit bill (HB 21-1294), which signals the need for more comprehensive conversations with communities about the practical benefits and unintended consequences of the current system. Regardless of the findings of this audit, learning alongside Local Accountability Systems grantees is a critical opportunity to inform and build capacity for what may come next.

CEI believes the politics surrounding accountability have reinforced a wide and oversimplified gap that dominates public narrative and distracts from focus on robust school quality or continuous improvement. We are committed to lifting up local efforts of district/community leaders implementing deep work to inform state-level learning, and to cultivating new partnerships that increase engagement and interest of key stakeholders to advance forward-thinking policy proposals in the next two years. 

EDNIUM Co-Founder and Executive Director TeRay Esquibel believes it’s time for a shared positive vision about school accountability and what it means for Colorado’s youth.

CEI’s Accountability Work 

  • CEI published a series of white papers on accountability redesign, followed by two statewide summits in 2018 and 2019 on the topic of What is Quality and Who Decides? Each event brought together state policy makers, local leaders, and advocacy organizations.
  • This work contributed to legislation for a Local Accountability Systems Grant (SB 19-204) to support and learn from local pilots, with CEI then chosen to facilitate the statewide learning network through 2021. You can see emerging lessons from this work in our recent newsletter and corresponding videos on CDE’s website.
  • We launched Future Ready Families to empower parents and caregivers as engaged partners in their child’s education and development. The concept builds growing recognition in COVID that many parents do not get information they need to understand, support, and advocate for their student’s learning, especially as it relates to relationships, learning development, and assessment, and that the time is right and overdue for family support and demand-creation in these areas.  

Throughout 2021-22, we will build implementation support for quality measures; lead discussions around community and family definitions of school quality; and create structures and partnerships necessary to build momentum and advance the work.