Why it’s difficult to understand how well Colorado’s English learners are performing compared to their peers

New data that is meant to help the public understand how Colorado students who are learning English as a second language are performing on state tests is in many cases baffling and inconclusive.

Students at Lumberg Elementary School in Jefferson County work on their assigned iPads during a class project. (Nicholas Garcias/Chalkbeat)
Students at Lumberg Elementary School in Jefferson County work on their assigned iPads during a class project. (Nicholas Garcias/Chalkbeat)

By Nic GarciaChalkbeat

New data that is meant to help the public understand how Colorado students who are learning English as a second language are performing on state tests is in many cases baffling and inconclusive.

The state released those numbers last week as part of a large publication of results from the 2016 and 2017 PARCC tests broken down by different students groups. Chalkbeat has been publishing findings from the data since. We’ve looked at the state’s achievement gap based on race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and special needs.

Today, in our last installment, we try to understand the gaps between the state’s English language learners and their native-English speaking peers.


A center of the opt-out movement, Colorado will now penalize schools whose students skip tests

By Nic Garcia, Chalkbeat

In an effort to keep federal dollars flowing to Colorado classrooms, the State Board of Education voted Wednesday to create two quality systems for the state’s schools — the existing one designed in 2009 by state lawmakers, and a new one that meets federal requirements.

The unusual arrangement amounts to a compromise between the state education department and the U.S. Department of Education.


A record number of Denver schools got top ratings, but large disparities persist

By Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat

More Denver schools this year earned the top two ratings on the district’s five-color scale than ever before, a spike officials say reflects the record academic progress students are making.

However, nine schools that otherwise would have scored top ratings were downgraded for having large academic disparities between traditionally underserved students and their more privileged peers under a new rule meant to spur schools to close those gaps.


Denver, Boulder schools home to the state’s largest achievement gaps based on race, new data shows

The Colorado Department of Education is making available two years’ worth of test scores showing achievement gaps within districts and schools.

By Nic GarciaChalkbeat

Since Colorado introduced new, more challenging state math and English tests in 2015, schools and families have seen a steady — and often slow — trickle of results.

Now, the Colorado Department of Education is making available two years’ worth of test scores showing achievement gaps within districts and schools.

The data show wide differences between how different student groups score — for example, gaps separating black and Hispanic students from white students, or students with special needs from other students, or students who qualify for subsidized lunches and those who don’t.


Aurora schools now ask visitors for ID, and that may scare off some immigrant parents

In a climate of fear about increased crackdowns on immigration, asking for that kind of documentation can have a chilling effect, advocates say.

By Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat

An additional layer of security screening in Aurora schools has raised concerns about whether a system meant to keep kids safe may be keeping away parents and other family members who are not in the country legally.