Case Study: Oversight of the State Review Panel

SchoolWorks has collaborated with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) since 2014 to establish and manage the State Review Panel – an annual body of Colorado educators selected to evaluate the state’s lowest performing districts and schools and issue evidence-based recommendations to the State Board of Education.

The Colorado Department of Education Accountability System

In 2009, Colorado’s legislature passed the Education Accountability (the Act), creating a system designed to hold the state, school districts, and schools accountable for student academic performance based on specific indicators of performance and growth. Since 2009, the Colorado Department of Education of Education (CDE) has embarked upon a comprehensive process to ensure an aligned and balanced accountability system. The foundational philosophy of the accountability system in Colorado is that schools and districts that meet basic state expectations hold increased autonomy; whereas schools and districts not meeting those expectations will be eligible for additional support, as well as periodic monitoring. To guide its system of checks and balances, the Act created the State Review Panel (SRP).

Every year, schools and districts receive performance ratings. Schools that are consistently assigned the lowest ratings of “Priority Improvement” or “Turnaround” enter onto the state’s “Accountability Clock”. After districts and schools receive these low ratings for a number of years in a row, they must come before the Colorado State Board of Education, which is required to direct a course of action designed to dramatically increase student achievement.

In the public accountability hearing, the State Board of Education considers pathway recommendations for low-performing schools or districts from:

The Education Commissioner: The Commissioner and CDE staff provide relevant data and background information to support the hearing.
The District: Each district can provide a recommendation for which course of action it believes would best improve student achievement.
The State Review Panel: Colorado-based education experts visit the school or district, review documents and issue a written recommendation regarding which action will best improve student outcomes.

For more information, access the CDE Accountability Clock Fact Sheet and the CDE State Review Panel Fact Sheet.

SchoolWorks’ Role

SchoolWorks partners with CDE officials on an annual basis to:

  • Develop and refine protocols and processes that guide site visit procedures for district and schools. (Protocols are used to establish consistent and transparent expectations for Panelists and to ensure the feedback provided to the State Board of Education responds to the criteria outlined in the state’s Accountability Act.)
  • Annually recruit and train Colorado-based educators to serve on the State Review Panel.
  • Oversee and manage the site visit process with State Review Panelists:
    • Provide school and district orientations,
    • Collaborate on creating site visit schedules,
    • Coordinate document collection with schools and districts in advance of visits,
    • Remain in communication with school/district leadership throughout visits,
    • Compile and write site visit reports, and
    • Provide an opportunity for the school or district to complete a factual review of the report.
  • Act as liaisons to CDE and participating school/districts in order to ensure the objectivity of resulting reports and recommendations.
  • Moderate recommendation meetings to ensure all evidence and factors are considered as the State Review Panel recommends a course of action to the State Board of Education for a district or a school.
The Results

SchoolWorks provides hands-on project management and task oversight of this annual process, and also serves as a collaborative thought-partner to CDE officials. Some of the outcomes of this ongoing engagement include:

  • In partnership with CDE, SchoolWorks has recruited and trained approximately 25 State Review Panelists each year since 2014.
  • Working with State Review Panelists, SchoolWorks has overseen between 5 to 10 accountability site visits annually in schools and districts across the state.
  • Each year, SchoolWorks and CDE administrators participate in an annual debrief to review data (e.g., SRP recommendations, survey results), discuss and reflect on strengths and successes, and identify areas for continuous improvement for the following year.
  • In addition, SchoolWorks collaborates with CDE on an ongoing basis to identify trends and complete analyses of performance data and procedural information to inform the evolution of this work.
Dates: Dates: 2014 – present


"From co-designing protocols to coordinating field work, SchoolWorks has been an invaluable partner throughout this process. They have organized this project for us efficiently and effectively, helping us best identify school and district needs for improvement."
- Lisa Medler, Executive Director of Accountability and Continuous Improvement, Colorado Department of Education


Introducing SchoolWorks Charter Application Bootcamp!

Thinking of launching a charter school? Not sure where to begin? Check out our new online course, brought to you by the trusted experts at SchoolWorks.