By Melissa Garcia

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4)– After years of slumping test scores, the Colorado State Board of Education voted to approve a plan to help Westminster Public Schools get back up to standard.

Westminster Public Schools is one of five districts across Colorado on the state’s watch list for chronic low performance.

(credit: CBS)

The most severe action the state can take on schools with continued underperformance is to close the district or some of its schools.

At an accountability hearing on Thursday afternoon, the Board of Education voted 6-1 in favor of a joint plan for the district to partner with two external management groups.

Westminster High School (credit: CBS)

Westminster Public Schools will have two years to get test scores and other considered factors up to state standards, or else the issue will end up back on the table.

Teachers and staff members filled a packed meeting room Thursday.

The overflow room for Westminster Public Schools (credit: CBS)

An overflow audience, including some concerned parents, sat outside the hearing listening to the proposed turn-around for a district that has underperformed for the last six years.

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia interviews Colorado Dept. of Education spokeswoman Brenda Bautsch (credit: CBS)

Brenda Bautsch with the Colorado Department of Education said that Westminster students in every grade and every subject have scored consistently below state requirement.

Students scored around the 15th percentile in English and math, Bautsch said.

File photo of a classroom. (credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

The CDE proposed that a non-profit management group step in to help.

“We believe that this outside organization could help the district find the right path forward in terms of improving instruction at all of its schools consistently for all students,” Bautsch said.

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia interviews Westminster Public Schools spokesman Steve Saunders (credit: CBS)

Steve Saunders, spokesman for Westminster Public Schools, said the plan also calls for an educational consultant to oversee the district.

He said the district had come a long way since implementing its Competency Based System.

“Every year, dramatic improvements,” Saunders said in an interview with CBS4’s Melissa Garcia. “Last year, we did slip back a bit, and that was part of our argument to the state was that, you can’t look at that one year. Look at where we were, where we are now. We’re dramatically better.”

Under the new plan, the district will open a lab magnet school in 2018.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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