Local Innovation in School Accountability

CEI is partnering with Colorado schools and districts to reimagine education accountability.

Over the last few years, there’s been a great deal of interest from schools and districts across the country in exploring a variety of accountability indicators, measures, processes, and tools that focus on continuous improvement.

In Colorado, for example, six rural districts in the Student-Centered Accountability Project (S-CAP) are using school review processes and tools to provide each other with timely, actionable feedback, based on the needs and interests of their communities.  In addition, a consortium of alternative education campuses (AEC) have identified new indicators and measures aligned to their unique missions, while also piloting external evaluations of the desired student outcomes.

Simultaneously, policy makers in Colorado and nationally have introduced legislation that encourages and supports state and local innovations that provide a much richer and more meaningful picture of school and district quality than one based on a single measure of student achievement.

On November 28th, we gathered local school and district leaders, as well as national experts in the field, who are shifting the way they think about accountability. We discussed the next phase of what we measure in schools, how we measure it, and innovative structures for school accountability that promote community engagement and continuous improvement.

Read the one-pager about our work in accountability here.

Resources from the November 28th Event

The Future of School Accountability in Colorado
Rebecca Holmes, CEO of Colorado Education Initiative

Moving Beyond First-Generation Accountability Systems: Drawing Inspiration from Pioneering States and Systems
Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute

Framework for Rethinking School Accountability
Elliott Asp, Senior Partner of Colorado Education Initiative

Leveraging Local Innovation for State Change: A Massachusetts Case Study
Jack Schneider of Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment (MCIEA)

Leaders in Local Innovation: Measuring What Matters in Colorado Communities
Jim Griffin, President of Momentum Strategy and Research, Lisa Yates, Superintendent of Buena Vista School District, Jennifer Douglas, Founder of New Legacy Charter School, and Mike Post, Principal of Chaffee County High School

CEI’s Observation

Professionals across a wide range of schools and districts are hard at work developing measures and systems closely attuned to their students and communities. There is a real sense that public policy can, and even should, support accountability system innovation.

In response to this growing energy and interest, and recognizing that there is a gap between local innovation and state policy, CEI is seeking to gain a better sense of the innovation emerging from Colorado’s schools and districts and how the state can support this work.

Our goal is to learn about and document the various accountability-related projects and ideas at work across Colorado’s public education community, and assess overall interest and readiness among schools and districts in the idea of accountability pilots.

Readiness isn’t simply about expressing frustration with the current state and/or looking for ways to opt out of the system. It’s about a desire to make the accountability system in Colorado more useful in incentivizing and supporting continuous improvement that leads to better outcomes for all kids.

CEI will assess interest and provide feedback about locally-driven innovative ideas. Our exploration will culminate in a one-day event on November 28 that will unveil what we have learned and explore how we might further support accountability system innovation in Colorado. The event will provide information and networking opportunities for educators, researchers, policy-makers, and others interested in advancing district and school accountability measures.

School and district representatives are invited to participate in the exploration phase by indicating an interest below or emailing Heather Chikoore to learn more.

Download and complete a Letter of Interest (LOI), to outline your idea and/or existing work.

Mark your calendar for November 28 and plan to attend a full-day convening. This day of exploration and networking will connect you with other innovators and provide feedback related to your school accountability advancement efforts.

Informational Webinar


Learn more about the exploratory phase through an informational webinar or by talking to staff at CEI. Complete the form below to indicate your interest.


Complete and submit a brief Letter of Interest to tell us about your idea and existing work.

Microsoft Word iconDownload Letter of Interest


Receive feedback and input about your idea from CEI, and connect with state and national resources and experts.

November 28

Attend a one-day convening to learn from existing Colorado accountability pilots, local and national accountability experts, and receive peer-driven feedback.

Who is leading and supporting this project?

The inspiration for this project are local school and district leaders who are pioneering new approaches to accountability. CEI, an organization that has supported the S-CAP districts, and Momentum Strategy & Research, an organization that has supported the AEC consortium, are working together during this exploration phase.

Is the exploration phase focused on schools or districts?

Both – i.e. wherever innovation is happening. We’re interested in learning about interest from individual districts, cohorts of districts, individual schools, and cohorts of schools.

Is there financial support available?

The only financial support will be a small stipend to support travel to the Denver-metro area in November for an event. More details on the event will be available in late September and will be posted on CEI’s website.

Is this about changing Colorado’s School Accountability Act?

While a long-term ambition is to inform updates to Colorado’s School Accountability Act, this exploratory phase is limited to identifying schools and districts that are interested and ready to innovate within the current policy environment. Any future phase will depend on the readiness and needs of local schools and districts as well as interest from funders.

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