Reimagining Education Accountability

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

Our Point of View

Throughout spring 2023, CEI engaged nearly 100 superintendents and state ecosystem leaders to learn about their perspectives on top opportunities and challenges facing K-12 education in Colorado over the next five years, including opportunities for CEI to drive positive change.

A key finding from these engagements:

While Colorado is often highlighted as a leader in blurring the lines between K-12 education, postsecondary education, and industry, there is significant lack of alignment between what our state communicates are priorities (For example: career-connected learning and applied problem solving) and how our current policy framework supports and incentivizes high school leaders trying to move in this direction.

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 aligns with the national conversation around prioritizing a variety of accountability indicators, measures, processes, and tools that focus on continuous improvement.

CEI is elevating district policy perspectives to inform how public policy can, and should, support accountability system innovation.

2024 Accountability EdPapers

CEI is publishing a new series of Accountability EdPapers to share lessons, reflections, and recommendations about the future of high school accountability in Colorado. Informed by our robust portfolio of school district partners and an advisory committee comprised of a diverse group of education leaders and experts in assessment from across the state, this series will explore the following principles reflected in state and local systems:

  • Honoring local relevance
  • Prioritizing actionable and timely data
  • Rethinking the role of high-stakes testing
  • Promoting cross-system learning and transparency
  • Keeping equity at the forefront

We are eagerly monitoring the work of the 1241 Task Force and are hopeful that this renewed series of EdPapers will be read as a partner to that work, encouraging bold action and creative solutions aligned to these principles, informed by leaders in the state closest to the work. We invite you to be part of the conversation and to reach out to CEI’s Vice President of Policy and Partnership Amber Elias if you would like to engage.

2024 Accountability EdPapers:

CEI’s 2018 EdPaper series expressed an urgent call to action to address accountability in Colorado. The 2024 papers build on this work:

Local Accountability System Learning Network

CEI served 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.

“They’re not afraid to ask the hard questions. And I think because they’re not seen as necessarily politically connected or having an agenda that is connected to something else, simply besides doing what’s best for our learners across the state of Colorado, I think they are able to say more things and ask more things and do more things automatically.”

– Rural School District Superintendent