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Sept. 25, 2020

Standards and Instructional Support Newsletter

Thank you for reading the Office of Standards and Instructional Support's (SIS) monthly newsletter. Topics for this e-publication will focus on support for the implementation of the 2020 Colorado Academic Standards. Visit the 2020 Standards Implementation webpage for more information and helpful resources.

To receive standards-related updates prior to the next newsletter, read CDE's weekly newsletter The Scoop, The Spark monthly e-newsletter to teachers and the monthly CDE Update for Superintendents. Visit the Communications Office homepage to subscribe.
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General Announcements

Resources in Response to COVID-19

The Office of Standards and Instructional Support has contributed to resources that support educators during these unprecedented times. The following are the most requested areas to find answers to frequently asked questions. In addition, a frequent question our office receives is in regard to priority standards. Our office implements legislation and current legislation does not prioritize specific grade-level expectations in any content area. Therefore, we operate to assist districts in implementing standards that are adopted by the State Board of Education in all content areas. Curricular decisions are made at the local level.

Visit the Standards and Instructional Support homepage for more information.

Holocaust and Genocide Studies

On July 8, 2020, Governor Polis signed into law HB20 – 1336.  This legislation includes several elements focusing on the teaching of the Holocaust and genocide in Colorado. Specifically, on or before July 1, 2023, each school district board of education and charter school shall incorporate academic standards on Holocaust and genocide studies into an existing course that is currently a condition of high school graduation. Said standards shall be recommended by a stakeholder committee and adopted, on or before July 1, 2021, by the state board and should identify the knowledge and skills that students should acquire related to Holocaust and genocide studies, including but not limited to the Armenian genocide.  In addition, the CDE shall create and maintain a publicly available resource bank of materials pertaining to Holocaust and genocide courses and programs no later than July 1, 2021.  

For more information, visit the CDE website.
2020 Standards Implementation

High Impact Instruction in Diverse Learning Settings

The purpose of these documents is to provide some guidance for each of the content areas addressed by the Colorado Academic Standards. While some compromises are inevitable when shifting instruction to non-traditional settings, maintaining high-impact instruction (or the highest-impact instruction under the circumstances) requires adherence to certain principles, practices and strategies. Teaching is a very complex endeavor and while it isn't possible to cover every approach, tool and practice for every situation, these documents aim to inform educators about what instruction should ideally look like given a variety of instructional settings. 

For more information, view the Best Practices for Educators webpage.

Setting the Standard Webinar Series

The Office Standards and Instructional Support hosts ongoing virtual webinars called Setting the Standard. Join the team to stay up to date on high impact instructional strategies, CDE resources for teaching and Colorado Academic Standards implementation updates.

Webinars will be hosted on the first and third Friday of each month at 11:30 a.m. Join via Zoom

Setting the Standard Podcast

What's happening in education across Colorado? In its podcast, the CDE's SIS Office talks about teaching, learning, assessment, curriculum and academic standards.

Episodes include news, resources, interviews from the field, and tips for improving teaching and learning in schools and classrooms. Find more information on Anchor.


Safe physical distancing guidance has been released for performing arts. Choir, chorus, band and indoor athletic pursuits (whether artistic or competitive) are among the highest risk activities, given that all inherently involve forceful respiration in a confined space. Evidence shows that forceful respiration is high risk for a COVID-19 super spreader event.

When greater than normal respiratory effort occurs, 6-foot distancing is not sufficient to prevent viral transmission, and is even less effective if masks are not worn. Studies have shown that wind and brass instruments also emit high levels of small respiratory droplets and aerosols. 

CDE and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have partnered to provide performing arts guidance for K-12 schools. The updated information is part of the CDE 2020-21 Planning Framework and Toolkit and located within the "Encourage Safe Physical Distancing During Activities and Limit Sharing" section. Read the full guidance here. 

Career and Technical Education

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) oversees Career and Technical Education for all students in Colorado. CCCS and CDE collaborate regularly on this important work to increase the postsecondary and workforce readiness of all Colorado students.

To stay up to date on CTE programming in Colorado, visit the official CTE website.

Comprehensive Health

The CDPHE recently released results from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey and Smart Source information. 

Healthy Kids Colorado Data
The purpose of the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is to better understand youth health and what factors support youth to make healthy choices. CDPHE has published Healthy Kids Colorado Data for the state and health statistical regions. This data can be used to identify behavioral need as well as risk and protective factors in your school and community. These data can be a key indicator and driver to guiding your health education curriculum.  

SMART Source Data
Colorado Healthy Schools Smart Source (Smart Source) is an inventory of best practices in school health, completed once per school by school staff. Schools and districts use Smart Source to help inform programs and policies to improve student health.

For details about the data, visit the CDPHE website.

Computer Science

The online Computer Science Resource Bank was created through a collaboration with educators and industry experts. Authorized by the legislature in 2017, the online resource bank includes a wide variety of ideas for teachers, including sample curricula and materials – even information about scholarships for students.

Financial Literacy

The Personal Financial Literacy Resource Bank is available as a resource for educators to use throughout the year. The tool allows users to search grade level for tools, standards-aligned lesson plans and digital programs to teach Personal Finance. Students and teachers can also to search for scholarship and grant opportunities and access online personal financial literacy resources.


The Standards Instructional Support Office has updated resources around the mathematics standards, including:
  • Latest guidance from NCTM and NCSM
  • Planning for the possibilities in Fall 2020 and beyond
  • Teaching and learning in the era of COVID-19 and #blacklivesmatter
Visit the Mathematics Preparations for 2020-21 webpage for details on each of these resources.

Physical Education

SHAPE America has created a collection of resources to help in continuing to provide high-quality, standards-based physical and health education lessons despite the current COVID-19 circumstances.

View the resources on SHAPE America's website.

Reading, Writing and Communicating

The Reading,, Writing, and Communication (RWC) e-updates are designed to keep literacy educators and leaders in the loop of CDE news, updates and announcements, as well as state and national professional learning opportunities, and high impact instructional strategies to employ in the classroom. 

Find all past editions of RWC e-Updates on the CDE website.


CDE solicited feedback on the option to extend the implementation timeline for the science standards only. As a result, full implementation of the science standards will take place in the 2021-22 school year.

CMAS science assessments will transition to covering the 2020 CAS in science no sooner than the full implementation of the 2020 science CAS.

For more information, review the implementation extension PDF here.

Social Studies

A collaborative of educators, museum personnel and others worked together to create primary source sets for grades K-6. Currently, there are at least three primary source sets for each grade level.

Also, look for the new primary source analysis sheets geared specifically to elementary students. The worksheets can be found on the Elementary Primary Source Sets webpage.


The White House has released its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Strategy. The strategy focuses on maintaining the nation’s STEM leadership and emphasizes inclusion, diversity and workforce development.

View the report on the White House website (PDF).

World Languages

The 2020-21 World Languages Instructional Guidance for Diverse Learning Settings is now available (PDF). The guidance covers teaching and learning in diverse learning settings, equity consideration and webinars from the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages. 

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