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Top 10? Yes, But ‘C’ for Colorado on Students First Policy Report Card

Not too long ago I was telling you about new information out grading Colorado schools’ performance. But how is Colorado doing in applying policies that promote an excellent, equitable and efficient education system? Today the national group Students First released its first-ever State Policy Report Cards.

How did Colorado do? Depends how you look at it. When you look at our ranking among the states, it makes you feel pretty good:

  1. Louisiana
  2. Florida
  3. Indiana
  4. District of Columbia
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Michigan
  7. Hawaii
  8. Arizona
  9. Colorado
  10. Ohio

Number 9? Hey, that’s not too bad — at least until you learn enough to have wished that the report cards were graded on a curve. When only the top two states earned a B, and 11 states received an F, there’s not a whole lot of smug satisfaction to be had with how well we are doing. Sure, 39 states would have been happy just to get a C like Colorado did, but the real value in the report card is seeing some areas we need to work on most:

  • Reforming salary schedules so teachers aren’t just earning more for advanced degrees, a major misallocation of resources
  • Empowering families to make excellent education choices through opportunity scholarship and/or the parent trigger
  • Providing public charter schools with fair, equitable funding both for operations and facilities
  • Giving parents a clear picture of how well their school is performing (thankfully, we have Colorado School Grades filling the gap) and whether their child has been placed with an ineffective teachers
  • Requiring schools to “link expenditure and student achievement data in a way that allows policymakers and the public to understand the impact of their spending decisions”

I haven’t done the math. But it seems pretty likely that if Colorado took care of those five agenda items, we’d soar to the top of the list by empowering parents, promoting effective instruction, and bringing greater transparency to public decisions. Then, when we said “C is for Colorado,” we would be referring just to the spelling of the state’s name, not our education policy grade.