Progress reports for kids, schools benefit Colorado districts

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and Center for Assessment believe that having a better understanding of student performance and achievement over time is invaluable in providing the best educational environment for their students. So, after a decade of work to create new ways of measuring individual student growth, the CDE and Center for Assessment introduced the Colorado Growth Model, a system that provides a revealing look at student progress. Instead of just examining how students perform today, it takes into account how they performed in previous years - measuring not just their individual achievement but also their rates of individual progress.

The challenge was sharing the Colorado Growth Model with teachers, principals and other educators in a consistent and easily viewable format. Instead, the state distributed data in large flat files to each district requiring them to load, analyze, and present data on their own—a cumbersome process at best. It became clear that the CDE needed a simpler way for educators to understand and make use of this critical information.Process
To help it develop a new system, CDE chose custom software designers Universal Mind (UM). The process began with the three Ds: Discovery, Design and Development. During the discovery phase, Universal Mind worked with CDE’s team to establish a “strategic vision story” that highlighted the goals of the solution, taking into account who their users were. Then, during the design phase, UM designers created a series of sketches and diagrams that helped everyone gain a common understanding, and which also incorporated feedback from CDE and users.

During the development phase, UM technologists established functionality of the application by tying it with the backend and creating complex middle tier connections into the CDE data warehouse.

Finally, in July of 2009, CDE introduced the resulting application, known as SchoolVIEW, to staff in 180 school districts. Shortly thereafter, SchoolVIEW launched with 470,000 individual student performance reports to school districts for use by teachers and parents throughout the state.

“Universal Mind’s attention to detail was impeccable and the primary reason the Colorado Growth Model has been so well received nationally,” said Dr. Damian Betebenner of the Center for Assessment.

The response in the Colorado educational community was enthusiastic. Administrators can look at “big picture” summary data for their district or school, while principals and teachers can focus on individual students and show parents key information about their child’s achievement and growth.

Widespread support for SchoolVIEW has translated into a commitment from Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to invest $2.5 million of discretionary funds to ensure use by all of Colorado’s 180 school districts, more than 1,800 schools, and more than 25,000 teachers. The Center for Assessment and the CDE intend to share SchooVIEW with other states and co-develop a multi-state platform that builds upon these early successes.

The Colorado Department of Education supports and serves 178 school districts with their work to provide quality learning for more than 800,000 preK-12 students statewide. CDE also serves adult education and the state’s libraries. The Center for Assessment’s mission is to contribute to improved student achievement through enhanced practices in educational assessment and accountability by working with states and other educational agencies to design and implement effective assessment and accountability policies and programs.