The Colorado legislature went down to the wire in finalizing legislation for the 2015 session, settling on education bills that offer a lot of compromises.
In short, school districts will be getting some additional money – not as much as superintendents had asked for, and student testing will be streamlined—though not as much as critics had hoped for.
Governor John Hickenlooper must still sign the legislation, but as approved by lawmakers, the new laws would cut back on some of the testing for younger students and eliminate state assessments for 11th and 12th graders. Juniors would still take the ACT test. Lawmakers did not, however, make any changes to the online PARCC assessments or the controversial Common Core. You can read a detailed analysis of the education legislation here.
Of special note to District 50, lawmakers agreed to pause the so called “Accountability Clock” which the state uses to measure academic success of schools and districts. Lawmakers determined that since the new PARCC assessments will not produce meaningful data for a while, it doesn’t make sense to use PARCC as a measure of accountability.
District 50 is just a few accreditation points away from moving into the “Improvement” category.
Lawmakers will also allow some districts to pilot a new testing formula that better meets the needs of students and teachers that can then be shared with the state as a whole.
Lawmakers settled on a funding bill that provides state mandated increases for inflation and growth plus an additional $25 million to pay down the so called “negative factor” which is money taken away from school districts during the height of the recession.
In addition, lawmakers targeted and additional $5 million for “at risk” kids and $10 million to help struggling rural school districts. It’s far less money that state superintendents had asked for at the start of the session. That request was a combined $270 million.
Superintendent Pam Swanson was a leading voice in the effort to bring education equity to the state. She testified before the Senate Education Committee and her remarks were quoted extensively during floor debate in the Senate.