Friday, December 5, 2008


AURORA ― Gov. Bill Ritter today received 21 education-reform recommendations from his P-20 Education Council, proposals that address the governor's long-term goals of reducing the high school dropout rate, cutting achievement gaps and helping moreColorado students continue their educations beyond high school.
"Once again, the P-20 Council, which is co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien, has crafted an ambitious, bold and visionary set of recommendations," Gov. Ritter said during the Council's final meeting of the year, at the Community College of Aurora. "The recommendations build on the Council's groundbreaking work from last year and will allow us to continue transformingColorado's education system into the best system in the country.
"This set of reforms also reflects my long-term goals to cut the high school dropout rate and achievement gaps in half, and to double the number of certificates and degrees being earned by Colorado college students," Gov. Ritter said. "In these tough economic times, we need a rigorous and relevant education system to provide our students with the skills and knowledge to succeed in a globally competitive, 21st century marketplace."
The 21 recommendations fall into four general categories and will be considered for possible introduction in the upcoming 2009 legislative session:
·         Reducing high school dropout rates;
·         Improving the preparation of classroom teachers;
·         Strengthening post-high-school and workforce-readiness opportunities for students;
·         Improving the use of data.
A summary of each recommendation:
1.      Revision of the state's performance based teaching standards: To modify the state's teacher performance based standards, as defined in SBE rule (per 22-60.5-203), to reflect the needs and issues facing teachers in this state, such as the socioeconomic and cultural diversity of pupils and the needs of English language learners and special needs students.
2.      Consolidation of alternative teacher preparation and program accountability: To consolidate alternative teacher preparation routes into a single alternative route to reduce confusion for potential teachers about how to enter an alternative route, increase flexibility in creating alternative routes, and ensuring that such programs are reviewed periodically by the state for evidence that teacher candidates are competent in the Colorado Performance Based Standards for Teachers.
3.      Alignment of content requirements for all licensure programs (traditional, alternative, TIR):  To both ensure that new teacher content knowledge requirements among all types of licensure programs—traditional, teacher in residence, and alternative—are consistent in rigor and application and to ensure that the process for verifying licensure candidates' content knowledge is uniformly rigorous while maintaining maximum administrative flexibility to approve candidates.
4.      Permission to offer college majors in "Elementary Education" and "Early Childhood Education": To allow institutions of higher education to offer and award majors in elementary education and early childhood education.
5.      Modification to state teacher preparation program licensure rules to expressly accommodate national teacher accreditation: To synchronize state and national teacher education accreditation/authorization visits.
6.      Support for the forthcoming Teacher and Principal Unique Identification pilot program legislation.
7.      Creation of a state-level teacher institute: To create a short-term (three-year), state-level teacher quality institute.  
8.      Additional funding for the professional services (educator licensure) division in the Colorado Department of Education: To provide additional resources to the educator licensing division in the department of education in order to expedite the processing of license applications, increase the use of automated licensure processes, and improve data collection and analytical capacities.
9.      Prioritize the Colorado Growth Model and Provide Greater Access to Data and Analytical Capacity to School Districts:  To provide additional resources for improving the operability of the data systems supporting the Colorado Growth Model and increasing access to and training on the model for practitioners in the field; to engage local districts to leverage their expertise and experience in providing and analyzing data; to ensure that CEDAR, or any subsequent state system, is compatible with district-level systems.   
10.  Develop a new, next generation state education data system in the Colorado Department of Education: To replace the department's existing education data system with one that would accommodate the needs of an education system envisioned in CAP4K, ensuring that such a system could interface with systems in other state departments, enable the longitudinal tracking of all students from preschool through postsecondary education, and allow effortless exchanges of data between school districts.
11.  Creation of a data coordinating council in CDE: To create an internal data coordinating council to assist the department with the full implementation of the North Highland Report and look for ways to improve the effectiveness of data collection.
12.  Authorize the Data Protocol Development Council created in HB 1364, or a successor committee, to continue work on the development of an integrated P-20 education data system and create a state "P-20" education data coordinating council to advise this work: To create a stakeholder-based data coordinating council to advise the ongoing work of the Data Protocol Development Council and provide recommendations to the Governor's Office of Information Technology on current and future data collection, system integration, and dissemination practices.
13.  Concurrent enrollment: To create a "preferred program" for concurrent enrollment, a state-coordinated program that would be universally accessible, standards-based, and financially and academically accountable; authorize career and technical education  programs as well as basic skills courses for certain students; and create a state-level advisory committee to coordinate the implementation of the preferred concurrent enrollment program.
14.  Individual career and academic plans: To have the State Board of Education adopt standards for Individual Career and Academic Plans, which districts would have to meet or exceed as soon as is practicable.  Such standards would be incorporated into the State Board of Education's accreditation policies.
15.  Creating and cultivating postsecondary aspirations in public schools: To provide state-level staff support, professional development and technical assistance to administrators and teachers, recognition programs for schools, and adopt accreditation standards for "postsecondary access/success plans."
16.  Postsecondary attainment accountability and reporting: For the departments of education and higher education to share student enrollment data, create reports on student participation and achievement, and, for higher education in particular, track students' progress into public and private colleges and universities. 
17.  Incentive funding for postsecondary readiness: To provide incentive funding (e.g. $500 per case) to K-12 schools that successfully graduate postsecondary and workforce ready students who are otherwise at risk for not completing high school.
18.  Creation of a division of education reform accountability: To provide at least one FTE and external contracting resources in an appropriate state department (other than CDE or CDHE) to monitor and report on the progress and effectiveness of reform efforts.
19.  Modifications to the Innovations Schools Act: To amend the Innovation Schools Act to broaden its scope and provide incentives for its use among schools and districts.
20.  Aligning the work of the CDE and the CDHE in implementing requirements of CAP4K (SB 212) with the recommendations contained in the report of the Graduation Guidelines Development Council: To ensure that the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Higher Education use the recommendations contained in the report created by the Graduation Guidelines Development Council to help guide the creation of new content standards, assessments, and definitions of postsecondary and workforce readiness.   
21.  K-12 Incentive Funding to Reduce High School Dropout Rates: To provide grants school districts participating in the "Statewide Dropout Initiative" in order to implement targeted dropout prevention initiatives and create early warning dropout systems.