Sheridan Schools appeals accreditation rating

SHERIDAN – When Superintendent Michael Clough received the latest report from the Colorado Department of Education, he was not happy with what he read. The Sheridan School District received the second lowest grade from the state and he believes that's unfair.

"In Sheridan, the difference between 'Accredited with Priority Improvement' and 'Accredited with Improvement' comes down to the story of 22 students," Clough wrote in a response to the Colorado Department of Education decision.

Every school district receives an accreditation rating: Accredited with Distinction, Accredited, Accredited with Improvement Plan, Accredited with Priority Improvement Plan, Accredited with Turnaround Plan.

CDE states that Sheridan received a lower rating after looking at standardized testing data, graduation rates, and dropout rates.

"The Colorado Department of Education cannot recommend approval of Sheridan School District No. 2's appeal, in order to maintain the fairness and integrity of the state's accountability ratings," the department released in a position statement.

But, Clough says the district is being unfairly punished because the district has 22 students involved in a dual enrollment program where they are working towards a high school diploma and college credit at the same time. But, since that program takes more time to complete, Clough says the state counts them as dropouts.

"The 22 students are challenging themselves and taking college-level work," Clough wrote in his response. "From an accreditation perspective, this should be viewed as a positive."

Instead, the categorization of the 22 students as dropouts has left the district with the lower rating, according to Clough.

But, the CDE statements says that Sheridan is asking for something that no other school district has ever asked for.

"With approval (of the change), a precedent will be set that allows districts to revise the students considered as graduates, even after official data is certified by the district. This has not been approved for any other school or district, nor is it supported in CDE's guidance," as written in CDE's position statement.

Clough will make the appeal Thursday night at a special meeting called by the Sheridan School Board of Education to outline an appeal to the state.


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