Most public schools in Colorado and across the nation have no incentives to focus on their high-achieving students, a new report released Tuesday evening from a conservative-leaning think tank found.
Colorado’s accountability system, which measures the quality of the state’s public schools, earned just two out of four stars in the report authored by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington D.C.
To improve its system, Colorado should give additional points to schools that boost students to the highest levels on state tests, the report said. It should also account for the performance of gifted and talented students in the same way federal law requires that other groups of students, including those from low-income home, factor into the system, it said.
Just four states — Arkansas, Ohio, Oregon and South Carolina — have systems in place to encourage schools to focus on their highest performing students as well as their lowest, the report said.
The recommendations come as states are tinkering with how they rate schools under the nation’s new federal education law.
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Like previous versions of the law, the Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states identify the lowest performing schools. While the new law continues to require states to measure the quality of schools using results from annual standardized tests in reading and math, states are free to choose other measures of school quality.
Fordham’s report asserts that an unintended consequence of previous accountability systems is that high-performing students, especially those at struggling schools, were left without support to push them even further in their academic pursuits.
“It’s wrong for any child to miss out on academic challenges at school, and we should do everything we can to develop the full potential of all our students, including high achievers,” the report’s authors wrote.