History and Background
The Student-Centered Accountability Program (S-CAP) is a collaborative, grassroots network improvement community originally driven by a diverse group of school district leaders representing 30 rural districts throughout Colorado. The group coalesced in 2015 around their common commitment to expand the State accountability system to reflect multiple measures in evaluating student learning to better reflect and communicate growth of the whole child in a meaningful, localized way. Elliot Asp, then Interim Commissioner of Education for the State of Colorado, actively connected the districts with the intent of unifying what he understood to be a shared vision for accountability.
The S-CAP group (at its inception referred to as the “Rural Innovation Alliance”) held its first meeting in March 2015 in Denver, CO with a group of educational partners from the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), Colorado Department of Education (CDE), the Colorado Rural Alliance (CRA), Schools of Opportunity and over 15 rural district administrators. The S-CAP group presented an executive summary to the State Board of Education on May 14, 2015, seeking support for the project and the removal of barriers to implementation. Following the meeting, the Board of Education requested S-CAP districts return at the June 2015 Board meeting to present a formal Board Resolution supporting the project. The resolution was passed unanimously by a Board that had previously been divided on issues of testing and accountability. The S-CAP districts continued to develop the project, returning throughout 2015 to provide project updates and request assurances. The Board considered their requests and directed CDE to partner with S-CAP to revise accountability measures and reporting.
In Spring 2016, the Student-Centered Accountability Group’s core districts Buffalo-Merino, Buena Vista, Kit Carson, La Veta, and Monte Vista decided to become a Genesis Group of the Colorado Rural Education Collaborative, gaining support from Generation Schools Network and Battelle for Kids to advance the work through thought partnership, tool development, facilitation, funding and voice. During the 2016-2017 school year, each of the core districts hosted a System Support Review (SSR) where their schools were observed and given feedback by S-CAP colleagues and other stakeholders. With experience, protocols and tools now in place, S-CAP is welcoming new districts to join in the work and partnerships are being expanded to include the University of Colorado-Denver to validate the work.
In 2017, S-CAP districts and partners were the recipients of a $1 million, three-year Hewlett Foundation grant to help make fair and equitable access to deeper learning a feasible priority in rural schools and communities that are often overlooked and undervalued. The purpose of the grant is to connect and support leadership in at least 30 rural Colorado districts to implement student-centered accountability and continuous improvement systems and practices that focus on the deeper learning and the whole child. Hewlett funding will scale S-CAP to 30 rural districts over the next three years and support work of S-CAP including:
Research & Practice Partnership which builds intentional relationships and roles for all partners, researchers, and practitioners
Research to support and improve the rigor of the S-CAP process and data collection tools to enhance the credibility of S-CAP as a deeper learning accountability and continuous improvement system
Systems Support Review & project management (SSR Support)
Funding for S-CAP participation
Overall grant management
In 2020, S-CAP celebrated several key milestones, including:
Expansion to 14 districts
15+ tools created
34 SSRs conducted
367 Stakeholder Participated in Focus Groups
29 Events Hosted
Participation in the Colorado Local Accountability System Grant
Participants at an SSR, 2019-2020 School Year
A group of rural CO school districts came together to explore a shared desire for more comprehensive student accountability systems and discussed how they might work together to accomplish this. Five of these districts jointly designed and piloted the Student-Centered Accountability Program.
S-CAP core districts include, with links to the district sites:
These core districts have gained many insights into their own accountability systems and feel that this program is the future of truly student-centered accountability in Colorado. By partnering with the Colorado Rural Education Collaborative, Generation Schools Network, and Battelle for Kids, they are able to expand the group of member districts to include more rural schools in this exciting and innovative continuous improvement strategy.