Taking a Look at This Year's Colorado School Grades

December is an exciting month for me. For starters, I’ve got some cool presents coming my way next week. In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of fun education stuff to keep me busy. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of highlighting some standouts among CDE’s annual award winners. This week, I have the honor of presenting the newest report card from Colorado School Grades.

Some might wonder why I’m so excited about school grades. All the data is out there anyway, right? Those people have probably never experienced the sheer horror of navigating performance frameworks on CDE’s website. The information is there, and those with some level of knowledge and experience can find it without experiencing irreversible brain damage. Others who may want or need information on school performance—parents, for instance—are likely to find the system too onerous to be worth the effort.

Colorado school grades rectifies that problem by putting everything into easily understood letter grades. But don’t let the simplicity fool you; all of the variables used by CDE are wrapped into those grades using a complex formula developed by the University of Colorado Denver.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

I’ll let you play around with website’s nifty search and comparison tools on your own. I’d like to highlight some of the “winners” of this year’s grades. To do that, I’m going to do something rarely seen on Ed is Watching: Include a graphic from Colorado School Grades. Nobody panic; this won’t be an all-the-time thing. It just saves my little fingers some typing. It’s also prettier.

It’s no surprise to see DSSTs and other charters on the lists. Heck, Liberty Common (number three on the high school list) is the same charter that absolutely demolished the state ACT record earlier this year.

It is interesting, however, to see just how heavily classical charter schools are represented, particularly on the high school list. That’s especially true given the (politically motivated) uproar over Golden View Classical Academy in Jeffco last month. It looks to me like the “traditional approach to education with direct, teacher-led instruction and a focus on the fundamentals” touted by those crazy classical types is working just fine.

Still, Colorado School Grades isn’t all about the good stuff. While secondary schools in and around areas like Colorado Springs look like they’re doing pretty well, other areas are struggling. One of those areas is the Jefferson Articulation Area within Jeffco—a problem spot I’ve written about before. Something about seeing the problem geographically represented on a map really drives the point home.

Of course, the point of Colorado School Grades—and the reason I like it so much—is that it doesn’t just highlight the good. It also shows the bad and the ugly in a plain-as-day, easy-to-interpret format. So while we celebrate the success of those schools that are doing great, the ultimate goal should be for all schools to make it to that A+ rating. Our kids deserve no less.

I’ll see you next time.