Day 24–Thursday, Sept. 1

Robert Hammond testified today. He’s commissioner of education in Colorado and oversees the Colorado Department of Education. He was appointed in May, 2011.

He said:

  • The department (CDE) is under-staffed.
  • He first learned of Lobato vs. Colorado lawsuit when he worked for Boulder Valley School District.
  • He supported lawsuit when he was with Boulder Valley School District, but does not now.
  • Some districts are in better places than others. It’s tough at the state level and it’s tough for superintendents.
  • Our business is about students achieving.
  • Supports state board of education mission…all children will become educated and productive citizens.
  • Supports 2011 legislative priorities around improving funding for schools.
  • Had to cut back on positions to reach rural districts, due to misuse of federal funds.
  • Only two regional reps for CDE now; used to be 9.
  • Study of rural districts presented to state board recommended organizing a rural council to support rural needs.
  • But no such council has been organized.
  • Rural study showed rural superintendents feeling disconnected from reforms.
  • Rural study showed 1.5 employees needed in every district just to manage reports for CDE.
  • Rural study said it’s “sheer folly” to think two people can provide all the necessary support to rural districts.
  • Asked legislature to not pass laws that require “gifts, grants and donations” because CDE staff can’t manage any more without funding.
  • Private resources being sought now to help with work, including foundations.
  • Nearly 400,000 students in Colorado below proficiency on CSAP.
  • CAP4K (Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids) implementation takes resources for state agency and local districts.
  • CDE did not do any fiscal analysis of S.B. 191 (educator effectiveness) bill.
  • CDE presentation to state fiscal stability committee in 2009 said schools need an additional $2.8 billion.
  • Does not know how state school funding levels are set.
  • CAP4K implementation estimates have ranged up to $80 million.
  • Developing and launching new assessment system at one time thought to cost up to $80 million.
  • Cost of launching a new standards system would be “substantial,” perhaps five times current level of effort.
  • Does not know how new student assessment will be funded.
  • If school districts don’t have the ability to develop new curriculum, that’s a local district matter.
  •  State does not develop curriculum.
  • Local districts are asking for assistance to implement reforms, including standards.
  • Primary source of implementation for S.B. 191 is gifts, grants and donations.
  • So far, $9.7 million collected—but seven or eight times as much might be needed.
  • Colorado Legacy Foundation is overseeing 10 district pilots under S.B. 191.
  • Those 10 districts report to the Legacy Foundation if they are having an issue or concern.
  • There is a long list of legislation that relies on gifts, grants and donations.
  • Different districts have different abilities to raise local resources to support their schools.
  • Districts in San Luis Valley have three times the level of free-and reduced-lunch eligible students as districts accredited with distinction.
  • The districts accredited with distinction have much higher property value than those in San Luis Valley.
  • There is an economic impact for students who don’t receive an appropriate education and dropout of school.
  • Student achievement is not where it should be.
  • We all want our students college and career ready.
  • New estimates suggest new assessment will cost only $24 or $25 million.







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