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Rural Colo. District Seeks Waiver From State Reforms

A rural school district in Colorado is seeking a waiver from the state that would allow the district to circumvent some state education laws, according to a recent article by Chalkbeat Colorado.

A 2008 law permits districts in Colorado to apply for "innovation status," which allows them to opt-out of some requirements of state education laws. The Holyoke School District, which serves about 600 students in northeast Colorado, is applying for a waiver to drop a state requirement to include student test scores in teacher evaluations.

Bret Miles, superintendent of Holyoke, told Chalkbeat Colorado that the requirement doesn't provide the district with additional information since small schools have fewer teachers and test scores already reflect those teachers. Holyoke also hopes to replace the state's early literacy assessment with an assessment they are currently using.

More than 30 schools across Colorado are classified as "innovation schools," but only one school district in Colorado has received that flexibility for all of its schools. That district, which is also rural, is using its waiver to extend teacher contracts and reduce the frequency of teacher evaluations. States like Kentucky and Kansas have similar innovation programs, although Kansas' state school board has expressed concern that the law takes away from the board's authority and is unconstitutional

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