Colorado School Grades, an online tool created by a diverse coalition of 18 nonprofit community organizations, released its 2014 rankings of every public school in the state. The grades, which are available online at http://www.ColoradoSchoolGrades.com, are intended to help parents, students, educators, and community members better understand how their schools are performing.
Nearly 2,000 Colorado public schools are ranked annually, using data from the Colorado Department of Education and a formula developed with the Center for Education Policy Analysis at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver. By giving every school an easy-to-understand letter-grade ranking, Colorado School Grades offers the simplest and clearest representation of how schools truly are performing. Also on the site, the Families Take Action blog, written by teachers, parents, and other community members, provides tools for anyone wanting to improve their school.
For four years, Colorado School Grades has represented an alternative to other school rating systems, which are difficult to navigate or offer watered-down information. For example, the Colorado Department of Education indicates that more than 70 percent of public schools are “top performers,” making it difficult for parents to understand how their school measures up. Colorado School Grades rates schools on a more rigorous curve, so the community can understand which schools are performing at the highest levels.
2014 TOP-RATED SCHOOLS
This year’s top-rated elementary schools in Colorado are Bear Creek, Bergen Valley Intermediate, Parker Core Knowledge, Dry Creek, Heritage, Hulstrom Options K-8, Aurora Quest K-8, Steck, Swigert International, and Traut Core Knowledge. Nine of the 10 schools are located in the metro Denver area.
The top-rated middle schools this year include two in the mountain communities of Ouray and Aspen. The complete list: Stargate Charter, DSST: Byers, Flagstaff Charter Academy, Slavens, Altona, Aspen Community Charter, Montessori Peaks Charter, Ouray, Windsor Charter Academy, and McAuliffe International.
The top-rated high schools in Colorado represent regions across the state, with three of the 10 located in the metro Denver area, five located in Colorado Springs, and two in Fort Collins. They are Ridgeview Classical Charter, Edison Junior-Senior, Liberty Common Charter, TCA College Pathways, the Vanguard School, DSST: Stapleton, DSST: Green Valley Ranch, Denver School of the Arts, the Classical Academy, and Palmer Ridge.
HOW THE GRADES ARE CALCULATED
The Center for Education Policy Analysis at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs developed the Colorado School Grades formula that is used to calculate school grades. It uses the same variables and weights as the Colorado Department of Education’s School Performance Framework, which includes data such as a school’s academic achievement, academic growth, academic growth gaps and, for high schools, college/career readiness.
The resulting data goes through a grading curve that ranks schools from top to bottom. The top 10 percent of schools receive an A grade (A+, A, or A-), the next 25 percent receive a B rating, the next 50 percent receive a C rating, the next 10 percent receive a D rating, and the bottom five percent receive an F rating.