There is a statewide-advertising campaign already up and running with television, radio spots and billboards telling people about Colorado School Grades.com.
There were 18 groups and organizations involved in this 14-month-long process. Tim Taylor is with one of the groups: Colorado Succeeds.
"We wanted to make sure it was simple enough to understand," Taylor said "Then there are opportunities to dig deeper. This is the first step no one should make a decision based solely on a grade a school got. It should encourage visits and additional research."
When Megan Talley works with special education students at Stony Creek Elementary, she knows she's part of an aggressive approach that's increasing academic achievement.
"It's a very rare thing for special education students to meet, exceeds, or even meets progress," said Talley, special education teacher at Stony Creek Elementary in Jefferson County. "To be in those categories is unheard of."
The Colorado Department of Education examines numerous things when deciding how to score a school. Academic growth and student achievement are primary factors.
The state looks at different groups of students and decides if those students are meeting expectations, exceeding expectations, or needs improvement in areas of academic growth.
At Stony Creek, special education students met expectations in writing and exceeded expectations in math.
"The scores have gone up tremendously," Sue Whelan, instructional coach at Stony Creek Elementary, said.
Whelan says teachers and administrators decided that what they were doing for special education students wasn't enough.
"We noticed that structures that were in our school were not systemic," Whelan said. "We talked about creating structures that made sense."
Whelan says more time was created for teachers to work together on how to address student needs. She says teachers started monitoring progress of students more often. And, they created a team to intervene with students who really needed more help in reading, writing or math.
"You specifically get a group of people together to focus on that need and you go at it until that child meets that expectation, that's going to push kids along," Whelan said.
Stony Creek is an example of successes happening across Colorado. Overall, there are more high performing schools than last year. There are also fewer schools listed at the bottom of the list.Schools districts are classified into five categories:
- Accredited with Distinction
- Accredited with Improvement Plan
- Accredited with Priority Improvement Plan
- Accredited with Turnaround Plan
Individual schools are classified into four categories:
- Performance Plan
- Improvement Plan
- Priority Improvement Plan
- Turnaround Plan.
VIEW: District ratings (Excel document)
The schools or districts listed as "turnaround" or "priority improvement" need to make academic gains quickly in the coming years, or else the state may take measures against the school or district.
VIEW: School Ratings (Excel document) (note: Aurora is listed as Adams-Arapahoe 28J)
Tally says seeing a strong school report card is encouraging.
"I love my job. I love coming to school every day. I love working with the kids," Talley said. "But when you see growth like that, it makes it all worth it."
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