Additional Information for SAC and DAC Members

Here is a table showing how much time students will spend on state assessments both before and after the passage of new Colorado legislation on this issue in 2015.

Here is an explanation of how the Colorado Growth model works, including the relationship between standards, TCAP, and the ACT. Here is an excellent overview of different achievement growth models that puts Colorado’s approach into a national context.

Here is the GAO's latest report on career and college readiness issues in the United States.

Would you like to better understand what students' MAP scores imply for their future ACT results? This one pager and this longer analysis will help you to do that.

Wondering what the ACT actually measures? This briefing is for you.

If you ever wonder about why we need district and school accountability committees, read this research, on the economic value of closing achievement gaps.

We’d also recommend this provocative article (written by a teacher) on whether, for our professional educators, K12 systems are really "learning organizations".

It is also important that every DAC and SAC member understand the relationship between our state academic standards and our state assessment tests. Each grade level has state academic standards for different subject areas (these are available on our parents page). Achievement of proficiency on each grade level standard should logically lead to a student reaching the "college and career ready" standard on the National ACT tests that all Colorado eleventh grade students take.

State assessments (like CSAP/TCAP/CMAS) determine the extent to which a student or group of students has met these grade level standards. This is a critical point, because anybody who argues that there is something wrong with "teaching to the test" is actually saying that there is something wrong with teaching to our state standards. Anybody making that argument should also explain how, if we are not going to teach to our state standards, students will meet them, as well as the college and career readiness standards on the ACT/SAT tests taken in 11th grade.

Equally, when somebody argues that a student's, school's, or district's scores are low because CSAP/TCAP/CMAS tested for material that had not been taught, the appropriate response is to ask why curriculum material that is consistent with grade level state standards has not been used in class.

DACs and SACs are also responsible in law for providing advice on the way districts and schools spend money. Click here for an article that provides evidence about the public's lack of understanding about how much we actually spend on K-12 education.

In the UK, the Teacher Development Trust recently published an excellent synthesis of the available research on high and low performing teacher professional development programs. As this issue seems to be a continuing hot button here too, it should be an interesting read. Shortly after the UK report was published, another new report was published in the US ("The Mirage" by the New Teacher Project) on the high cost and low effectiveness of teacher professional development programs in the US. Did you know that, accounting for time and cash costs, the districts studied invested an average of $18,000 per teacher per year in PD? And essentially got zero return on this investment. Stunning. You can read the Washington Post's take on the report here. And you can download four more commentaries on the Mirage, here, here, here, and here. All make for thought provoking reading on this critical subject. So to do Brooking’s latest thoughts on teacher professional development. And don’t miss this new analysis of “What Ails Teacher PD” and this report on how teacher PD works in high performing school systems. As this research report notes, building new capabilities lies at the heart of many organizational performance improvement programs.

Finally, to put the Mirage report into its proper context, go back an read (or re-read) The Widget Effect, TNTP's previous report that criticized K-12's failure to recognize and act on differences in teacher effectiveness.

On a positive note, this new piece of research from McKinsey helps point the way towards how districts can increase the returns from their large investments in professional development.

Another hot button issue is the magnitude and impact of the teacher absence problem. This report from the Center for American Progress finds that Colorado has the nation's tenth highest percentage of teachers who are absent ten or more days per school year. And this article highlights the substantial negative impact those absences have on student achievement. This report covers the same issue, as does this December 2015 article in the Washington Post. And here is a table showing the percent of teachers who were absent for more than 10 days in 2013/14 at each school in Jeffco. Finally, if you would like to obtain specific teacher absence data for individual districts and schools, you can find it by searching the US Department of Education's Civil Rights Database.

Read this great new report from the Fordham Institute on whether school boards matter. The authors conclude that they do, and that a high level of focus on achievement improvement is critical. And then read this cautionary paper by Professor Kets de Vries, on how "vision without action is a hallucination."

At a broader level, here is a new research report that categorizes and differentiates the approaches used to school governance used in the fifty states.