WPS Proposal for ‘Improvement’ Rating Submitted to Colorado State Board of Education
On Tuesday, Westminster Pubic Schools (WPS) submitted a detailed position statement to the Colorado State Board of Education arguing that a change in the district rating to the “Improvement” category is warranted. The position statement is a required step in the appeal process after the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) denied a request for reconsideration in 2016 to move WPS from Priority Improvement to Improvement status.
“I think anyone who reads the position statement will agree that we have made tremendous progress and our students are better because of it,” said Superintendent Pam Swanson. “We have always believed in accountability and if you look at the report objectively you will see the CDE 2016 District Performance Rating does not reflect our success or acknowledge the challenges we have overcome.”
Among the key issues highlighted in the position statement:
- Of the 13 schools placed on the five year accountability clock as Turnaround or Priority Improvement in 2010, all have exited the clock
- WPS Competency Based System (CBS) is closing the achievement gap even though age-based “high stakes” testing is not compatible with an innovative CBS model
- WPS is fully accredited through 2021 by AdvancED, a highly respected regional and international education accreditation organization
- Implementation of the state accountability system has been inconsistent and discriminatory
- State testing data are unreliable
- WPS has a unique, low income student population that is highly mobile, with almost one in two students classified as English Language Learners
The conclusion to the position statement reads in part.
“The District deserves a real opportunity to implement this model under consistent expectations and in harmony with current state standards and assessments. Its performance ought to be judged on its own merits and considering its unique challenges, by all statutory criteria, and not just on unreliable data or in relation to other districts that lack comparable numbers of minority, poor, mobile, and non-native English speaking students.”
A decision on changing the district rating is ultimately up to the Colorado State Board of Education, and while the appeal process moves forward district leadership is working with the Colorado Department of Education to look at several scenarios to address issues surrounding the state accountability clock.
“The state has been with us every step of the way on this journey, often offering advice and support and we hope that continues,” Swanson said.