Some say there are no failing public schools. They need to look at the data.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, hundreds of schools have been placed on improvement or turnaround plans for poor academic achievement on state assessments. The state has also placed a quarter of its school districts on improvement and turnaround plans based for the same reason. Graduation rates are another indication: the four year graduation rate for Colorado students is just 77.3 percent.

In addition to state tests, a representative sample of Colorado students takes national tests through the National Assessment of Educational Progress. According to the most recent scores, 37 percent of the state’s 8th graders were proficient in math, 40 percent in reading, and 42 percent in science. There are significant achievement gaps between poor and middle class students and white students and minority students.

In comparison, roughly a third of the nation’s 8th graders were proficient in those subjects.  Think about it: 6 in 10 Colorado students lack proficiency in core subjects. Many of these students will graduate, if they graduate, without attaining full proficiency. How prepared will they be for career, college, and the other demands of adult life?

Some of these students attend poor performing or mediocre schools, while others attend good schools but have fallen behind their classmates. The argument for school choice isn’t really about failing schools but about struggling students. Students who attend poor performing schools need access to better public and private schools. Students who fall through the cracks at a great school also need options.

In the end, it’s important to admit that some public schools perform better than others and some public schools are failing. But that isn’t the issue. School choice isn’t about assigning blame; it’s about providing options for students to attend the public, public charter, or private school that best meets their needs.

What are your thoughts?

What options do Colorado students have to help them succeed at school?

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