Struggling Colorado school districts face state intervention

DENVER -- This week marks the beginning of an overhaul of public education in Colorado.

Right now, certain underperforming districts are meeting with Department of Education representatives to collaborate on a plan to turn those schools around.

The districts will appear in front of the Department of Education as part of a 7-year-old plan under the Education Accountability Act of 2009, which provided five years for schools to improve scores and performance.

It’s crunch time for Adams 14, but it's the kind of challenge their new superintendent relishes. The district performs below state standards.

The district has been improving, but not fast enough. So now the state board is set to get involved.

“Colorado's accountability system said when you get to year five, something has to be done,” said new superintendent Dr. Javier Abrego.

Dr. Abrego is promising big changes.

“I'm not giving you scientific. I'm giving you evidence. Whatever worked in other districts, I'm just trying to bring here,” said Abrego.

He wants to bring in help from an outside district to bring Adams 14 instruction up to standards in two years.

“In our case it's going to be an outstanding school district that has done outstanding work and has been categorized as a top district in their state,” said Abrego.

The Vail School District near Tucson, Arizona will be paid to hold Adams 14 teachers accountable and re-teach students who don't meet standards.

“I think that's the biggest thing we're going to be doing this year is holding everyone accountable for their position,” said Abrego.

The Arizona school has had tremendous success turning around its district and now helps other districts around the nation with everything from beefing up lesson plans to training teachers.

Half the students in Adams 14 and even more parents don't speak English, and many live in poverty.

The district is also focusing on working with parents and are even offering home visits from teachers.

“Please make sure you send your child to school each and every day prepared and ready to learn. That's all we ask. If you do that we'll take care of the rest,” said Abrego in a message to parents.

Adams 14 will present this plan to the state board in May.

If the plan is approved, Adams 14, along with the other districts presenting their own plans, will have two years to make it work or the state will step back in. 

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