New Federal Education Law Gives Colorado More Flexibility

The new federal education bill signed by President Obama Thursday gives states more control than they had under No Child Left Behind.

States will now have flexibility in setting long-term goals for assessments, graduation rates, and English language proficiency, as well as how money is spent to improve high-poverty schools.

The law also changes in the way schools and districts are rated. Instead of rating schools just on graduation rates and test scores, states get to choose one or more non-academic measure to rate – such as school climate or how many students have access to harder AP classes or whether a school has counselors.

"We’ve started having some of those conversations already with schools and districts and other stakeholders in the state, they’ve been very interested in broadening how we look at accountability," said Alyssa Pearson with the Colorado Department of Education.

Under the new federal law, the national testing schedule remains the same: English and math tests once in third through eighth grades and once in high school -- and for science, once in elementary, middle, and high school. The new law goes into effect for the 2017 - 2018 school year.