NEWS AND LETTERS
Because much of policy advocacy takes the form of documents, letters arguing on a topic, supporting documents and white page extended position reports, we have added a section below covering our advocacy letters sent out and replies.
LETTERS (below) includes advocacy communications to the various government agencies regulating Colorado public education. This includes the Colorado Department of Education and Colorado congress persons.
A synopsis of and links to the different letters are found below along with any responses.
As a result of the dramatic changes in delivery of public education due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Colorado Department of Education has had to change policies and practices in many areas. Here are those things we have had to challenge.
CDE's policy on timing of the UIP deadlines
The State Board of Education has voted to require schools and school districts to continue to submit Unified Improvement Plans but has moved the submission date from May 15th, 2020 to October 15th, 2020.
Since there was a moratorium on testing this spring, there are no test scores to analyze to develop a UIP. With decisions on the disposition of schools being based on test scores, it would be capricious and indefensible to make such important decisions based on testing from spring of 2019.
The A4PEP Board sent a letter to Commissioner of Education, Dr. Kathy Anthes, stating our reasons for opposing the requirement that schools and districts submit UIPs in the middle of a changing pandemic with high likelihood that the schools and districts will not be able to implement them because there may be very limited direct student contact a traditional classrooms
Read A4PEP’s letter challenging the value of requiring a UIP this year.
Letter to Congress on changes to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
High stakes accountability in the U.S. public education system has proven destructive to public education while simultaneously creating a large and lucrative testing industry with abundant lobbyist pushing for continued expensive ESSA mandated standardized testing.
The A4PEP Board sent a letter to federal legislators requesting they change the ESSA law to more accurately reflect what has been learned in school improvement since the early days of federal improvement mandates that started with the Elementary and Secondary Education act of 1965, revised as No Child Left Behind in 2002 and revised further as ESSA in 2015.
Read the letter here.
Rebuttal letter to those advocating for start-of-school-year standardized tests (ST)
The Colorado Commissioner of Education has received a joint letter from several organizations advocating for standardized tests at the start of the school year to determine the amount of learning loss suffered due to the pandemic.
The A4PEP Board believes that starting the school year with standardized tests is worse than folly, and has crafted a letter opposing the use of state-wide standardized tests, paid for by millions of CARES Act dollars, that will not yield the type of information needed by teachers for instructional planning in a timely manner.
The A4PEP Board sent a letter to Commissioner of Education, Dr. Kathy Anthes, stating our reasons for opposing the proposal by other organizations advocated for the school year to start with state-wide standardized tests to determine the effects of the switch to remote, online learning late last school year.
Read the full letter here.
The Commissioner of Education, Katy Anthes Ph.D. replied and her extensive letter is here.
Attachment to the Rebuttal, Overall problems with standardized tests
The A4PEP Board has crafted an addendum to the rebuttal letter outlining the larger flaws in the use of standardized test that routinely show low income students of color performing much lower than affluent, white students.
Examples are provided in this document of models for authentic assessments which provide information for teachers to assess student learning and availability for learning. Citations are included.
Read the full attachment here.