Change is afoot in Colorado. And you can offer your ideas as to what it means.
Colorado was one of ten states granted a waiver to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as No Child Left Behind (ESEA/NCLB), allowing school performance and student subgroup performance to be judged differently (See an EdWeek article here). The waivers allow states to replace NCLB targets with their own. As of next year Colorado won't be rated by Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) but will continue to look at school and district performance based on student growth in a framework very similar to that already used for the last two years. The Unified Improvement Plan (UIP) will help districts analyze their data and meet new goals.
The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) website notes that, "The waiver allows Colorado to focus on what matters most in the performance of schools and districts: student academic growth, or learning, which is the heart of the state's accountability system. When the accountability system incentivizes the right goals, school and district resources and instruction follow based on that focus." Other states are very interested in Colorado's use of growth data within its accountability system.
Colorado's Unified Improvement Plan process involves all schools and districts, struggling to high-performing, using data to annually reflect on their performance, identify performance challenges, and create plans for improvement. They submit these plans to the Colorado Department of Education and the plans are posted for public review.
What does this mean for gifted learners? The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), an international educational organization advocating for the education and quality of life for children and youth with exceptionalities, note on their site that the CEC "will review the approved applications closely to understand how states plan to incorporate special educators and gifted educators into the new teacher evaluation systems. This is an area of acute concern for CEC, as many systems across the country are struggling with how to appropriately include educators who work with students with disabilities and/or those with gifts and talents." CEC's ESEA/NCLB Reauthorization Recommendations are here.
The CDE's website states that "for Colorado, an important aspect of the waiver flexibility was around holding schools accountable for student growth, especially with regard to historically disadvantaged subgroups of students such as English language learners, students with disabilities, and students who are not yet proficient."
On CDE's site YOU may provide feedback about how Colorado's waiver should be implemented to ensure growth for ALL students.