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Colorado academic standards will be updated in 2018

State board considers input from educators, civilians
The varsity knowledge bowl team of Kyle Kuhn, Zane Schichtel and Garrett Damron competed at the Montezuma-Cortez High School tournament in December.

A year before a revision process for the state’s academic standards, the Colorado Department of Education released a survey this month that revealed about half of respondents had a positive view of the standards.

The standards are up for review in 2018. According to Senate Bill 08-212, passed in 2008, the standards must be reviewed every six years.

Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 District Superintendent Lori Haukeness said she was surprised to see that only half the respondents had a favorable view of the standards. She expected a higher percentage, she said.

“The standards are very good in identifying the knowledge and skills our students need,” Haukeness said.

Based on the federal Common Core, the Colorado Academic Standards are expectations of what students should know and what skills they should have at the end of each grade level. They cover subjects such as arts, health, math, physical education, reading, writing, science, social studies and world languages.

An internet survey has been set up for people to voice their opinion on the standards, and it will be open until Feb. 17.

In a meeting of the Colorado Legislative Education Committee in Denver on Wednesday, Melissa Colsman, state associate commissioner of student learning, said the revision process will involve key stakeholders and public input.

“We are looking at a process that would be transparent,” she said.

The department is researching and gathering input on the standards, the first of several phases in the revision process, she said. That information will then be provided to revision committees, who will do the bulk of the revision work, she said.

The committees will submit draft revised standards to the state board of education to get input from board members and the public, Colsman said. The draft will then go back to the committees, who will revise the standards again before submitting a final draft to the state board, she said.

There were 2,833 respondents from all 64 Colorado counties except Dolores, Hinsdale and Custer, according to a report on the survey results. People from 146 of the state’s 186 school districts took the survey.

More than 1,800, or 65 percent, of respondents were K-12 educators. Just under 300, or 10 percent, were parents. Seven percent, or 191, were postgraduate educators, and 5 percent, or 128, were elementary, middle school or high school students.

Survey respondents also included Colorado civilians, CDE staffers, elected officials, members of the news media and others.

Most respondents supported a moderate revision of the standards, especially in language arts, math and science. About 57 percent of survey respondents said the standards contained the knowledge and skills students need to be successful after they graduate.

The district frequently adjusts curriculum to make sure that students are learning what they need to meet the expectations of the standards, Haukeness said. She is pleased to see the state board doing the same, she said.

Haukeness said the standards are appropriate for the grade levels they address, and the revision rotation of six years is appropriate.

It would be nice to have the complicated standards broken down more for the benefit of teachers, Haukeness said.

About half the teachers in Re-1 have five years of experience or less, she said. Breaking the standards down further would make them more effective for new teachers, she said.

“It’s important to be reflective and constantly go back to make sure you’re meeting expectations for students,” Haukeness said.

About 62 percent of respondents said the standards served academically advanced students well. Only 37 percent said the standards met the needs of English learners, and 30 percent said they were effective for students with disabilities.

Most K-12 administrators who took the survey said revising the standards every six years or more would be best, and revisions should focus on one or two content areas at a time.

Calls to Mancos Schools Superintendent Brian Hanson and Dolores Superintendent Scott Cooper seeking comments were not returned on Wednesday.


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