Putting the Pieces Together: Educators on Colorado Academic Standards

PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER: Educators on Colorado Academic Standards Overview The Colorado Academic Standards define what students need to know and be able to do at the end of each grade. Standards for ten content areas — comprehensive health and physical education; dance; mathematics; music; reading, writing, and communicating; science; social studies; theatre; visual arts; and world languages — were created through a yearlong process engaging education leaders, business leaders, parents, and citizens. The standards reflect what Colorado views as the essential skills and knowledge students need to be successful. About the Findings To evaluate the implementation of the Colorado Academic Standards, The Colorado Education Initiative and the Colorado Department of Education surveyed teachers and principals in 26 districts across the state in 2014. Unless otherwise noted, the findings presented here reflect the percentage of teachers or principals who agree or strongly agree.1 The results of a recent survey conducted in 26 districts by The Colorado Education Initiative and the Colorado Department of Education suggest that, in general, teachers have positive attitudes about the Colorado Academic Standards, their ability to implement the standards, and the alignment of curriculum and assessments to the standards. The findings suggest that principals are even more positive than teachers, as are teachers trained in the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) or Math Design Collaborative (MDC). LDC offers teachers an instructional system for developing students’ literacy skills across all subject areas; MDC provides teachers with formative lessons and professional development so that they can use evidence of learning to adapt teaching. Despite readiness for implementation and general support, the survey results suggest that teachers need more tools and training. In fact, the percentage of teachers reporting that they have access to tools to help them implement the standards has decreased slightly since a similar survey was administered last year. This suggests that more emphasis should be placed on providing teachers with effective tools, including LDC and MDC, to help implement the standards with fidelity. Understanding and Support “I appreciate Overall, teachers report that they understand and support the Colorado Academic the effort to begin to Standards. In fact, 71 percent report that they either have a good or complete communicate standards and understanding of the standards, while 70 percent are supportive of the standards in their evaluation measures as well as to district. These percentages are even higher for principals (90 percent and 97 percent, include teaching professionals in respectively). However, only 53 percent of teachers report that their district has fully their creation. I feel more confident transitioned to the Colorado Academic Standards. about the portions that I’ve been able to participate in.” – Secondary teacher Preparation and Implementation The majority of teachers (74 percent) and principals (93 percent) feel prepared to implement the Colorado Academic Standards. Additionally, 76 percent of teachers have access to tools for implementing the standards, but a slightly lower percentage of teachers (68 percent) believe that the tools they have access to help them in their practice. The tools that teachers report using most commonly include the Colorado District Sample Curriculum Project, various Web-based resources, and LDC (see Figure 1).2 Figure 1. Tools Teachers Use to Implement the Colorado Academic Standards Colorado District Sample Curriculum Project 40% Web-based resources 34% Literacy Design Collaborative tools CDE's Curriculum Design tools 26% 32% Responses have a four-point scale: strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree. In Figure 1, CDE’s Curriculum Design tools include vertical progressions, standards graphic organizer, and content connections. 1 2 1 Math Design Collaborative tools 16% CDE's Transition Action Plan 13%