Luke Ragland is the vice president of policy for Colorado Succeeds, a Colorado School Grades community partner. This op-ed originally appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette.
A recent guest column, “We should reward best teachers in Colorado,” by Sen. Owen Hill and Tyler Lawrence briefly touched on the importance of the website ColoradoSchool Grades.com and why millions of Coloradans – 1.3 million in fact – have used it. As a representative of Colorado School Grades, I’d like to thank Sen. Hill and Mr. Lawrence for highlighting how this tool uses student test scores to help parents make informed decisions about their child’s education. With state testing happening this spring in local schools, I think that a longer explanation for parents is necessary.
Since Colorado Succeeds and 17 community partners launched the Colorado School Grades website in 2010, we’ve provided millions of parents across the state with valuable, easy-to-understand school performance information. This nationally acclaimed platform’s letter-grade ratings are straightforward, comprehensive, and accessible.
This year, changes in Colorado’s state test meant that the data we use to calculate the school grades wasn’t available, and so we weren’t able to update those school grades for 2015, as we explained on our website.
Fortunately, after this spring’s test results come back, the Colorado Department of Education will again have two years’ worth of data, allowing us to update Colorado School Grades ratings for every public school in the state. We are excited to provide parents with the information they need to make school choice decisions for their children.
But for the ratings to be accurate and representative of the state’s schools, and therefore meaningful to the millions of parents who use this tool, we need to make sure students participate in the CMAS/PARCC exams this spring.