February 17, 2012

Colorado again called to Washington to share education insights

State Board Chairman Bob Schaffer testifies to U.S. House Committee on Education

Colorado’s state education officials are becoming a regular feature recently in Washington, D.C., being called to explain the state’s nationally recognized reform system. Now, the State Board of Education’s Chairman Bob Schaffer has been requested to testify in front of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce on two bill proposals.

Today, Schaffer gave a Colorado perspective on two bills before the committee for consideration – the Student Success Act (H.R. 3989) and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990). In his testimony, Chairman Schaffer talked about Colorado’s value of parental involvement, options for choice for families and the value of having local control for important decisions.

“These broad strategies enjoy general bipartisan consensus among the seven members of the Colorado State Board of Education,” Schaffer told the committee. “I can assure you that Colorado’s board also shares an ambitious vision for the future of Colorado’s education system.”

Sharing Colorado’s system for transforming its teacher corps, Schaffer explained Colorado’s new educator evaluation system and how, for the first time, teachers and principals’ evaluations will be tied 50 percent to their students’ academic performance. The other half will be comprised of a combination of objective and subjective observations.

“For the vast majority of Colorado’s teachers who will thrive under the new system, they will finally begin to be treated like real professionals with compensation, recognition and advancement being directly associated with performance, and most importantly, with useful and constructive feedback on their professional practice and student results,” he said.

Schaffer encouraged the committee to support more flexibility in how federal education dollars could be used and to resist the urge to use funding as a means to push states in a direction it might not be so inclined to do on its own.

Schaffer applauded the direction of the two bill proposals before the committee saying they were a big step in the right direction.

“The combined effect of these bills is to rely on state-designed accountability systems, state-designed academic standards and state-designed assessments,” he said. “The bills would allow us to move forward with teacher assessments predicated upon verifiable success rather than the current federal definition which is predicated upon credentials, tenure and meaningless, expensive certificates from state bureaucracies.”

Clarifying the need for greater accountability, Schaffer underscored how the two bills and Colorado’s recently obtained waiver from parts of the No Child Left Behind law would not lower expectations for school and student performance.

“Quite to the contrary, Colorado’s proposal actually holds more schools and districts accountable to higher academic standards, and for more students in historically disadvantaged subgroups than NCLB ever did,” he said. “We are proud of state leadership in pushing accountability even further in a freer, post-NCLB world.”