Rethinking Accountability and School Quality Measures


Partnering with schools and districts to explore accountability measures, processes, and tools that focus on continuous improvement.

Our Point of View

Across a wide range of schools and districts, Colorado’s teachers and leaders are developing measures and systems closely attuned to their students and communities. This mirrors a national conversation: there’s been a great deal of broad interest over the last few years in a variety of accountability indicators, measures, processes, and tools that focus on continuous improvement. The sense is that that public policy can, and should, support accountability system innovation. This reimagining of education accountability is one of the central tenets of CEI’s work. CEI is committed to leaning in to these behaviors to accelerate our 2023 goals in the next two years, and our 2023 Goal 2 states Colorado communities embrace a broader understanding of school quality.

Local Accountability System Learning Network

CEI serves as the provider contracted by the Colorado Department of Education for facilitation of the Local Accountability System Grant Learning Network. The network consists of local education providers that adopt local accountability systems to supplement the state accountability system. Programs are underway to implement additional measures of statewide performance indicators and identify additional indicators of student success. These grassroots efforts allow a local perspective to be included in how school quality is demonstrated and also enable the state to learn from innovation in the field.

Statewide Convenings

In November 2018, CEI gathered local school and district leaders, as well as national experts in the field, who are shifting the way they think about accountability. At this event, we discussed the next phase of what we measure in schools, how we measure it, and innovative structures for school accountability that promotes community engagement and continuous improvement. Read more about the event here.

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

Student-Centered Accountability Project (S-CAP)

In Colorado, 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.

Read CEI’s Series of EdPapers Focused on School Accountability:

  • Colorado Department of Education
  • Seek Common Ground