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Reports from Policy Analysts

P20 and the Common Core in Colorado

Submitted On: Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Analyst: Doe, Sue

From July 2013-February 2014 the Colorado Department of Higher Education convened regional groups of higher education writing and math faculty together along with high school teachers to discuss implementation of the Common Core and its relationship to college readiness.  The goal of the exercise was to create a smoother transition, or full readiness, for the move from high school to college, this being one of the two objectives associated with the Common Core, the other being workplace readiness. 

The regional groups were asked to develop both vertical alignment between high school s and colleges/universities as well as horizontal alignment across college campuses.  The consulting firm that helped with this process suggested that groups begin with vertical alignment and move then to horizontal alignment. Working first on the high school to college transition, the groups were asked to identify “gaps” between high school outcomes, as derived from Common Core curricula standards, and college expectations for incoming abilities. Noting these, the groups were then to develop SMART goals or objectives for the high schools to consider reviewing. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Appropriate, Relevant, and Time Bound. A central goal of this exercise was to make goals that might otherwise remain fairly vague and undefined into concrete objectives that would leave little room for interpretation.  

The regional groups noted the paucity of high school teacher involvement and also sought to more deeply understand the overall objectives of the exercise. The Department of Education reported that they had been unable to fund substitute teachers so that the public school teachers might be able to attend meetings.

Regional composition faculty groups used various national documents, such as the WPA Outcomes Statement, the Framework for Success, and the recent WPA document on standards for achieving credit during high school for college courses. In at least one region, these documents were placed alongside the Common Core curriculum and compared.

A shortage of financial resources led to dissolving the P20 initiative in February 2014 The regional groups were disbanded, and attention was turned toward several new areas of interest, much of it relating to General Education objectives and reducing remediation needs in Colorado colleges and universities.  New initiatives seem directed toward the development of greater consistency across Colorado campuses in the CO1, 2, and 3 composition categories, providing assistance with the development of PARCC (Common Core exam) exam questions, and continuing ongoing discussions about college credit for dual enrollment, AP, and IB curricula.  

Department of Higher Ed leadership may now be preparing to address the inconsistency of course syllabi and expectations across the public colleges and universities in Colorado. Their efforts may address objectives that were kept somewhat deliberately open and undefined in the beginning so as to provide maximum room for programs and faculty to develop courses as they saw fit for their local circumstances, to develop transferable courses, and to allow for interpretation of the state-wide curricular objectives.

Academic Level

Higher Education



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