Problem schools got $50M but many didn't improve

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Posted at 8:28 AM, Feb 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-22 10:28:24-05

Colorado's failing schools, some with as little as 15 percent of students passing standard math exams, were given five years and millions of dollars in federal aid to turn themselves around.

Among the 29 schools in Colorado that have one year remaining on their "accountability clock" before the state school board could move to shut them down or turn them into charters, most have not made significant progress, and some have gotten worse.

Of those 29 schools that are nearly out of time, six shared $8.8 million in federal grant funds. Four of those have yet to show progress or had test scores decrease, while two — Carpenter Middle School in Westminster and Trevista Elementary in Denver — saw improvement, moving up a level in the state's four-tiered accountability system: performance, improvement, priority improvement and turnaround.

In the past five years, 39 failing schools in Colorado received federal grants totaling more than $50 million. Most have a couple of years left on the clock to improve test scores, achievement gaps and graduation rates that would pull them out of failing, or turnaround, status.

Of the schools that received federal aid, half have either dropped a level or remained static, while the other half moved up one level from turnaround status to priority improvement.

At Aurora Central High School, which has received $1.7 million in federal school improvement grants, student achievement has been stagnant. In 2010, 14 percent of students were proficient in math, compared with 12 percent in 2014. Reading proficiency improved slightly from 36 percent to 40 percent.

The high school's four-year graduation rate is 42 percent.

Read more from our partners at The Denver Post.