Standards & Assessments
Today's students are tomorrow's workforce. They will need to be armed with the knowledge, skills, and competencies required for success in a global, interdependent society. We work with educators, parents, the business community, and policy makers to advance the education profession and prepare Colorado's students for tomorrow.
K-12 Academic Content Standards
Colorado has been standards-based state since 1993. Since 2008, the focus has shifted slightly to more than K-12 academic content standards and it now includes preschool and postsecondary/workforce-ready standards.
Based on this new goal, both the standards and the assessment system must have relevance for students, provide ongoing feedback for students and teachers, and measure annual progress toward postsecondary and workforce readiness.
The State Board of Education adopted the new Colorado Academic Standards in December 2009 (updated from the original standards developed in 1993-94). Districts are required by statute to adopt standards that meet or exceed the new academic standards by December 2011.
Since the December 2009 adoption of new standards, the State Board of Education approved the Common Core Standards in math and English-language arts. The Department of Education (CDE) will begin to augment the state standards with the Common Core Standards, providing the adjustments are not more than 15 percent of the total content standards in each subject.
CDE Academic Content Standards Resources
CDE Statewide Graduation Guidelines
Academic Content Standards: Fewer, Clearer, Higher
For more than a decade, Colorado has had broadly articulated state content model standards
in 13 academic disciplines that emphasize topical recognition of ideas, themes, and facts that were of value more than a decade ago.
In 2007, the State Board of Education (SBE) recommended a comprehensive revision of the content standards to meet 21st century education challenges. In 2008, the State Legislature articulated the nature of the new standards by passing the law nicknamed "CAP4K," Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids, expanding the K-12 public education vision by integrating early childhood and higher education goals into a single P-20 education policy. CAP4K is being implemented in four steps:
1. Create descriptions for School Readiness, 21st Century Skills, and Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) - In December 2008, the SBE adopted a School Readiness description. Last June the board and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education agreed on a Postsecondary Workforce Readiness definition. These two definitions frame the content standards revision process.
2. Expand and refine the K-12 content standards by December 2009 - CAP4K expanded the standards to include early childhood through higher education as seamless P-20 standards. Guiding principles shaped the revision process, including "beginning with the end in mind;" defining the 21st century skills graduates need; have fewer, clearer, higher standards; and design them for clarity, rigor, and coherence.
The development of new standards for 13 academic disciplines is in three phases:
- Phase I: Reading and Writing, Math, Science, Financial Literacy, and Music, drafts of which were completed last March;
- Phase II: History, Economics, Geography, and Civics, with drafts completed in May 2009;
- Phase III: World Language, Physical Education, Dance, Theatre, and Visual Arts, with drafts completed in August 2009.
3. Realign student assessments with the new content standards - In Spring 2009, the State Board launched assessment pilots in several districts to gather information about which protocols signal student readiness for postsecondary success. By December 15, 2010, the State Board will adopt a revised Postsecondary Workforce Readiness Assessment System. By December 15, 2012, school boards will adopt PWR planning, preparation, and readiness assessments.
4. Certify that local school district standards meet or exceed the state model content standards - School boards will certify this by December 15, 2011. Some will revise their local standards and curricula to align with the new state standards. The new Colorado P-20 Public Education Policy, embodied in CAP4K, will provide students with opportunities for college entrance, as well as the 21st century skill set needed in a competitive global economy.
At the top of each academic discipline are competencies all students must be able to do by Grade 12, representing the "end-in-mind" strategy of the new standards. Each grade level will now have levels of evidence outcomes that represent distinct concepts and skills that all students must know and be able to apply. Each outcome requires the student to demonstrate not just understanding of the concept, but also the skill to apply it: the basis of a 21st century skill set and Postsecondary Workforce Readiness.
Standards-based Teaching/Learning Cycle Guide
CDE's Standards-based Teaching/Learning Cycle Guide (below) will help you understand what a standards-based system looks like and how the transition to the new Colorado Model Content Standards will work:
Action Plan - Standards Based Teaching Cycle
Action Planing - Roles and Responsibilities - Standards Based Teaching Cycle
Conditions That Support SBE
Self-Assessments for Teachers; for Principals; for District Staff