Request to Amend Accountability Plan – Colorado – NCLB Policy Letters to States

August 4, 2008

The Honorable Dwight D. Jones
Commissioner of Education
Colorado Department of Education
201 East Colfax Avenue, Room 500
Denver, Colorado 80203

Dear Commissioner Jones:

I am writing in response to Colorado’s request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following discussions between the Department and your staff, you made certain changes to Colorado’s state accountability plan, which are now included in the amended plan that Colorado submitted to the Department on August 1, 2008. I am pleased to fully approve Colorado’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2007-08 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Colorado’s accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I of the ESEA.

Please also be aware that approval of Colorado’s accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments approved herein, does not indicate that the plan complies with Federal civil rights requirements, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

I am confident that Colorado will continue to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in implementing the standards, assessment and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney ( or Clayton Hollingshead ( of my staff.


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.


cc: Governor Bill Ritter
William Windler
Patrick Chapman
Alyssa Pearson


The following is a summary of the state’s amendment requests. Please refer to the Department’s website (www.ed.gov for Colorado’s complete accountability plan.

Acceptable amendments

The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.

Including all schools in AYP determinations (Element 1.1)

Revision: For schools with only kindergarten through grade 2, Colorado will calculate AYP in the following manner:

  1. K-1 and K-2 school AYP will be determined using the third grade reading and math scores of students previously enrolled at the school.
  2. K-1 and K-2 schools will be held to the elementary school AYP targets for accountability purposes.
  3. All schools will be expected to yield annual results that meet the requirement of 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2013-14.

Safe Harbor Calculations (Element 3.2)

Revision: As was approved for 2006-07, Colorado will add, for 2007-08, an additional safe harbor measure that uses a longitudinal model to compare the same students’ scores from the prior year to the current year. The longitudinal model allows Colorado to track achievement as a student progresses through a school system. Through the longitudinal safe harbor, any district, school, or student subgroup that has at least a 10 percent decrease in the percentage of matched non-proficient scores in the current year compared to the previous year, based on a comparison of individual student assessment results in the current and previous year, will make adequate yearly progress (AYP). Colorado will include this calculation for any district, school, or subgroup that does not meet the annual measurable objective or the traditional safe harbor, provided that the match rate for the group of students is 95 percent or higher. Colorado will not apply a confidence interval to this application, nor will Colorado apply this additional measure of safe harbor to K-3 schools.

Including limited English proficient (LEP) students (Elements 5.1 and 5.4)

Revision: Colorado clarified that students with limited English proficiency can be classified as not English proficient (NEP), limited English proficient (LEP), or fully English proficient (FEP). All groups are included in the LEP subgroup for accountability purposes. To exit the LEP subgroup for accountability purposes, a student must be proficient in all modalities of English, including, reading, writing, comprehension, and speaking, as measured by the Colorado English Language Assessment. In addition, the student must score proficient or above on the state’s reading/language arts assessment.

Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (Element 5.3)

Revision: Through its appeals process, Colorado will include former students with disabilities in the students with disabilities subgroup for two additional years after they are no longer receiving services.

Graduation rate (Element 7.1)

Revision: For AYP determinations following the 2007-08 school year, Colorado will begin using a longitudinal cohort graduation rate, similar to the definition approved by the National Governor’s Association, in accountability determinations.

articipation rates (Element 10.1)

Revision: Colorado clarified its procedures for identifying whether students have been validly assessed and should be included as participants.

  • Students who were coded as “test deferred due to language” (test invalidation code 1) are counted as non-participants, unless they are recently arrived English language learners who have an overall Colorado English Language Assessment (CELA) score – such students are included as participants for the reading assessment. Additionally, students who have been in the U.S. for more than three years are counted as non-participants if they take the Lectura (Spanish) assessment. Colorado’s definition of AYP requires that 95 percent of all students in all required disaggregated groups of 30 or more, as well as 95 percent of all students in the school or school district as a whole, participate in general (CSAP).
  • If students are coded with a test invalidation code of 4 (parent refusal), 5 (test not completed), 7 (extreme frustration), 8 (non-approved accommodation or modification), 9 (misadministration), or B (District Ed. Services), they are counted as non-participants. They are excluded from the performance and other indicator calculations.
  • If a student is coded as test invalidation B (District Ed. Services) and has suffered a significant medical emergency that prevents him or her from attending school and participating in the assessment during the entire testing window, including the make-up dates, the district may appeal the record and have it excluded from participation calculations. Documentation that such students have been determined by a medical practitioner to be incapacitated to the extent they are unable to participate in the appropriate State assessment must be included with the appeal.

Colorado also clarified that school districts and schools that fail to reach the 95 percent participation threshold for the school or district as a whole and for all required disaggregated groups do not make AYP. If a school or district misses AYP due to its participation rate, the school or district may appeal to average its participation rates over two or three years (including the current year plus one or two prior years).

Unacceptable amendments

The following amendments are not aligned with the statute and regulations and may not be included in Colorado’s amended accountability plan.

Safe Harbor Calculations (Element 3.2)

The Department cannot approve Colorado’s request to exclude results in reading of its alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (CSAPA) from safe harbor calculations for 2007-08 AYP determinations. Colorado requested to exclude the reading scores from the CSAPA from safe harbor calculations because it implemented a revised CSAPA in reading for the 2007-08 test administration and does not believe it can compare those results to the 2006-07 CSAPA reading results to calculate safe harbor. NCLB, however, requires that safe harbor calculations include the scores of all students in the relevant subgroup (including students who take the regular assessment and students who take an alternate assessment). If a state is unable to compare the results of its tests to the previous year’s scores for whatever reason, it is not able to take advantage of the safe harbor calculation.

Including Students with Disabilities in Adequate Yearly Progress (Element 5.3)

The Department cannot approve Colorado’s request to use the transition flexibility authorized in 34 C.F.R. § 200.20(g) for calculating AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup in the 2007-08 school year. As noted in § 200.20(g) and the November 18, 2007, letter to Chief State School Officers (refer to: www.ed.gov, only states that are moving expeditiously to adopt and administer alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards are eligible for this flexibility. Colorado’s request noted that it has decided not to develop an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards. As a result, Colorado is not eligible to use the transition flexibility.

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans

Request to Amend Accountability Plan - Colorado - NCLB Policy Letters to States