By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)– The Colorado Board of Education is making big changes to how it rates elementary and middle schools. Right now, the School Performance Framework is largely based on how students perform on the state standardized test relative to other students.

board education school class

(credit: CBS)

The new rating system would raise the bar for the highest rating and would measure how students are doing relative to grade level expectations, too.

Van Schoales, head of A Plus Colorado says the bar schools have to clear now to get a high rating is simply too low, “Three quarters of our schools are rated good and yet we know half of kids aren’t reaching standards.”

Van Schoales board education school class

Van Schoales (credit: CBS)

Schools are rated on a bell curve that is currently designed so most schools earn the highest rating. Under the new system, 20 percent fewer schools would earn high marks.

Aimee Baca-Oehlert, President of the Colorado Education Association, agrees that schools should be rated based on their progress toward grade level standards, not just relative to other schools, but she says schools with low marks now aren’t getting the help they need.

board education school class

(credit: CBS)

“Why would you put more schools into a zone or a label that says you need more help, you need more support, but not give them those supports. It just feels like a set-up and a punitive system,” said Baca-Oehlert.

Aimee Baca-Oehlert board education school class

Aimee Baca-Oehlert (credit: CBS)

She argues any rating system that relies heavily on a standardized test punishes schools for things they have no control over, “Students who are in extreme poverty, who don’t come to school with a full belly, who don’t have a home to live in, who are experiencing homelessness, that impacts their ability to learn.”

Schoales said the system shouldn’t, and doesn’t, hold schools accountable for poverty, “But we should hold them accountable for whether the school is moving (students) along continuum in terms of academic growth.”

Shaun Boyd

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