Thursday, January 12, 2012

Education board passes rules for charters, online schools

State board of education receives other updates

The Colorado State Board of Education met this week for a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Highlights from the meeting include:


The Colorado State Board of Education adopted two sets of rules at yesterday’s meeting. Rules for the administration, certification and oversight of Colorado online programs were amended to incorporate changes to financial reporting and accountability required by House Bill 11-1277. The new rules better align online schools with other schools in the state, establish new quality standards and allow the state to more thoroughly scrutinize new applications for online schools.

The Board also approved standards for charter schools and charter school authorizers which include recommendations for charter schools and their authorizers. Legislation from 2010 established a Charter School and Charter Authorizer Standards Review Committee to make recommendations to the state board and education committees regarding standards. As a result of the board’s deliberation and refinements, it opted to change the name of the document from “rules” to “guiding principles” to allow districts more latitude for innovation.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Waiver Process Update

Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond provided a brief update on the ESEA waiver. The department has submitted its waiver application. Additional information requested by the U.S. Department of Education will be submitted on Thursday, Jan. 12. The U.S. Department of Education will make a final decision on Colorado’s waiver application soon. For more, visit

Race to the Top Round Three

Colorado will receive $17.9 million in Race to the Top Phase 3 funds. Half of the award is designated for district use and will be allocated based on Title I share distributions. CDE will work with the U.S. Department of Education this month to finalize the grant budget in order for funds to be accessed and disbursed. Also in January and February, CDE will work with districts to secure their participation in the grant. All districts are eligible to participate. Participation is based on a Memoranda of Understanding and defined scopes of work that relate to the key areas of the application. For more information, visit

Update on Great Teachers, Great Leaders Rules and Procedures

On Monday, Jan. 9, the Legislative Committee on Legal Services voted 10-0 to approve without change the proposed regulations for implementation of the Great Teachers Great Leaders Act, or Senate Bill 10-191, the law that creates a new system for evaluating principals and teachers. The General Assembly will review the rules and either approve or repeal the provisions no later than February. By May 2012 if any provisions are repealed by the General Assembly, the State Board will promulgate emergency rules and re-submit them to the General Assembly for review. For more on educator effectiveness, visit

Environmental Education Plan

Staff from the Department presented preliminary information on a draft of an Environmental Education Plan. The development of a plan was prompted by a 2010 law outlining the importance of the outdoor environment on the health of the state’s residents, specifically Colorado youth. The law required CDE to adopt a statewide plan for environmental education. The Department will present its draft plan to focus groups this month and launch a public comment tour and online survey in February to solicit feedback. To view the presentation, click here.

Blue Ribbon Award Winners

The State Board recognized three Colorado public schools that were awarded the U.S. Department of Education’s 2011 Blue Ribbon Award winners. They are Heritage Elementary School in Pueblo (Pueblo 60), Las Animas Elementary School in Las Animas (Las Animas RE-1) and Wildflower Elementary School in Colorado Springs (Harrison 2). The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and non-public elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve at very high levels and/or where the achievement gap in narrowing. To view photos from yesterday’s recognition, visit:

Charter School Appeal

The State Board of Education voted to uphold a decision of the Charter School Institute to deny Great Books Early College’s charter school application.

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