SHERIDAN - As the Colorado Department of Education releases academic growth scores for districts around the state, Sheridan Public Schools Superintendent Michael Clough wonders if these latest numbers will pull his district out of trouble.
"We along with several other districts across the state are coming towards the end of the clock," Clough said. "The scores are especially important to us."
Sheridan has been placed on the 'accountability clock', a timetable for the district to improve standardized test scores or face the possibility of losing accreditation from the state. Clough admits he does not even know what that really means.
"We're really heading into a system that is kind of being developed as fly it which is very uncomfortable when you are on the receiving end," Clough said.
The state is not sure what that means either since it is a new process and a district has never lost accreditation before.
"If a district or school loses accreditation – which has never happened before – the district would have to go into reorganization. That could mean new board, superintendent, structure, etc. But the ramifications of losing accreditation is still somewhat unknown," Jeremy Meyer, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Education, said in a statement.
Either way, Clough wants to get his district off the clock and he hopes the scores released Tuesday will accomplish that.
"Most of our scores were well within the typical range," Clough said.
One part of the district that has hurt Sheridan's test scores is Soar Academy High School. This an alternative school for at-risk students in a district that is around 90 percent low income.
"I think life has thrown them a few curve balls and they're just trying to get back on track," Hannah Moore, said.
Moore is language arts teacher at Soar. She says while the scores may not show it, the work being done at Soar is important for the community.
"In getting redirected in life, taking a test becomes less of a priority," Moore said. "Unfortunately, the tests that they take do not reflect the growth in learning."
Clough says Soar is an example of how the district is providing an important service, but gets penalized for it according to Colorado Department of Education guidelines surrounding test scores.
"I think there's several different ways that we could look at the progress and test scores do not tell the whole story." Clough said. "Quite frankly, they don't, they being the Department (of Education) really don't quite know what to do with Sheridan."
If you want to see the growth scores for your district, click here: https://www.cde.state.co.us/schoolview
The State Board of Education will address the status of districts like Sheridan in the spring. In the meantime, Clough says he will work get his district off that clock.
"Leveraging where we are on the clock is something positive and moving forward," Clough said. "We're continually looking at improvements."
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