Westminster schools appeal state education rating

District officials say rating does not reflect ‘success or...challenges we have overcome’

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Westminster Public Schools have made enough improvement to escape state sanctions, officials argue in a Feb. 7 filing.

School officials filed a statement Feb. 7 to the Colorado State Board of Education arguing that the state should give the district a higher “Improvement” rating that recognizes how much progress the district has made.

“I think anyone who reads the position statement will agree that we have made tremendous progress and our students are better because of it,” said Superintendent Pam Swanson. “We have always believed in accountability and if you look at the report objectively you will see the (district’s current rating) does not reflect our success or acknowledge the challenges we have overcome.”

Filing the statement is the first step the district must take to appeal the department of education’s current rating of Westminster schools.

Westminster Public Schools is one of five districts in Colorado that could face state sanctions after receiving five annual low performance ratings from the Colorado Department of Education.

In December, the department of education ruled that Westminster schools had improved over the past several years but not enough to give them a better rating. According to the state, Westminster Schools did improve overall between 2010 and 2014. Several schools declined in 2016, however.

Westminster school officials disagreed in the Feb. 7 statement, noting that the 13 schools put on a five-year deadline to improve have improved and met that deadline.

School officials also noted that the city’s student population is largely low income and that almost one in every two students is classified as an English Language Learner.

Officials said the district is converting to a different grading system based on student competency and said that system is showing improvement.

Finally, district officials argued that the state system has been inconsistent and discriminatory and that the state’s testing data is unreliable.

“The District deserves a real opportunity to implement this model under consistent expectations and in harmony with current state standards and assessments,”“Its performance ought to be judged on its own merits and considering its unique challenges, by all statutory criteria, and not just on unreliable data or in relation to other districts that lack comparable numbers of minority, poor, mobile, and non-native English speaking students.”

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