Adams 14 School District: A Story All Coloradans Should Care About

Of the nearly 6,000 students who call Adams 14 home, around 30 percent of them in 2017 left the district to find better options from neighboring districts because parents and families did want to risk another failed year.

For the last 10 years, Adams County 14 School District (Adams 14) has been identified as one of the lowest-performing districts in the state. In 2018, the State Board of Education directed the district to go under external management as a part of its turnaround strategy. Unfortunately, this strategy failed, and the state convened a State Review Panel (SRP) to determine what should happen next.

The State Board of Education convened on April 14 to consider the SRP recommendations and determine the next steps. The SRP recommended that the state reorganize Adams 14 under new leadership, close Adams City High School, and consider external management in the short-term for several of the district’s schools. Following passionate testimony and discussion from community members and education policy leaders, the State Board directed Adams 14 leaders to return in May with a detailed plan for partial management of the district and Adams City High. The district has until June to create a plan for partial management of Central Elementary.

Although these are very difficult decisions that will have lasting impacts on the community, the failure over the past decade highlights that the state’s accountability systems and policies are critically important to ensure students are protected. Throughout this process, the state has learned the extent of Adams 14’s failure to provide a quality, or even adequate, education for its students. The lack of consistent, successful leadership and poor educator retention has often left students to fend for themselves.

What’s more, district-wide testing demonstrates that fewer than one in five students in Adams 14 was effectively supported to master grade-level academic content in English Language Arts, and about one in 10 was supported to do so in Math. In other words, 21 percent of students met or exceeded expectations in English language arts and 13.4 percent met or exceeded expectations in math, according to 2019 CMAS data.

Our students deserve better. Colorado Succeeds and partners will continue to push our state leaders to put students first and identify more high-quality options for the students attending the Adams 14 district. Any proposal to help students must also include real transportation assistance to ensure students are able to access new school opportunities.

Stay tuned to the Colorado Succeeds team as this issue continues to be addressed in front of the State Board of Education next month. To learn more about what parents and students are saying about Adams 14, read this Denver Gazette op-ed by Nicholas Martinez, Executive Director of Transform Education Now.

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Colorado Succeeds