Who We Are
Colorado School Grades is presented by a coalition of 18 non-profit community organizations that believe all children deserve access to a high-performing school. Our mission is to provide community members, parents, students, and educators with accessible and easy-to-understand school performance information. To do this, we use data from the Colorado Department of Education to create an A-F grade for every public school in the state.
About this Site
Colorado School Grades’ mission is to help families make informed decisions about the school they choose based in some part on the academics of that school. The site also is intended to inspire and equip community members, parents, students, and educators with the information and resources they need to effectively engage in local school improvement efforts.
Many rating systems are based solely on academic achievement, or one snapshot in time of student performance. However, Colorado School Grades includes student academic growth in its rating of overall school performance. Colorado School Grades worked with the Center for Education Policy Analysis at the University of Colorado at Denver and R-Squared Research, LLC to calculate the grades using statewide test score data as well as the exact same variables and weights as the Colorado Department of Education’s School Performance Framework.
Colorado School Grades replaces fuzzy categories such as “performance” and “priority improvement” with universally understood A-F letter grades. Our theory is that community members, parents, students, and educators can much more easily understand grades, which convey a ranking scale in a way that the state’s categories do not.
The input data for calculating the overall grades includes:
| For Elementary and Middle Schools || For High Schools |
| Key Performance Indicator || Weighting || Key Performance Indicator || Weighting |
| Academic Achievement || 25% || Academic Achievement || 15% |
| Academic Growth || 50% || Academic Growth || 35% |
| Academic Growth Gaps || 25% || Academic Growth Gaps || 15% |
| || || College and Career Readiness || 35% |
More About the Grades Versus CDE’s School Performance Framework
The key difference between Colorado School Grades and the Colorado Department of Education’s School Performance Framework are the categories and the cut scores used to determine placement in a category. The chart below reports the Colorado Department of Education’s four categories and the distribution of schools in those categories. It is important to note that in the Colorado Department of Education’s model, the distribution of schools in the top two categories has significantly increased over the last couple of years as compared to the original distribution.
| Colorado Department of Education School Performance Framework (highest to lowest) |
| Category || Original (2010) Distribution || Current (2012) Distribution |
| Performance || 40.0-100 || 30.0-100 |
| Improvement || 15.0-39.9 || 10.0-29.9 |
| Priority Improvement || 5.0-14.9 || 2.5-9.9 |
| Turnaround || 4.9 and below || 2.4 and below |
Colorado has been a pioneer in developing an academic growth model and school performance framework, however these statutorily defined categories do not provide parents and community members with an accurate or intuitive portrayal of their school’s performance. When parents and community members do not understand how well their schools are performing, it is challenging to engage them in school improvement efforts. It is also difficult for parents to select schools based on academic performance and growth. Therefore, only the savviest parents are able to navigate choice in a complicated system.
Additionally, under the state’s existing system, schools in the 31st percentile and schools in the 99th percentile are both listed in the state’s top category. In contrast, Colorado School Grades assigns letter grades based on more nuanced, rigorous cut scores.
| Colorado School Grades Ratings Model (highest to lowest) |
| Category || Distribution |
| A (plus) || 98.0-100 |
| A || 92.0-97.9 |
| A- || 90.0-91.9 |
| B (plus) || 85.0-89.9 |
| B || 70.0-84.9 |
| B- || 65.0-69.9 |
| C(plus) || 55.0-64.9 |
| C || 25.0-54.9 |
| C- || 15.0-24.9 |
| D(plus) || 13.0-14.9 |
| D || 7.0-12.9 |
| D- || 5.0-6.9 |
| F || 4.9 and below |
For More Information
Read more about the grading methodology in the technical notes from the University of Colorado – Denver and R-Squared Research , LLC. The grading methodology for Alternative Schools is described in these notes from R-Squared Research , LLC.
Learn more about the Colorado Department of Education’s School Performance Framework and Growth Model.