Students in Pueblo City Schools risk not being able to graduate if the district loses its accreditation.
Colorado Department of Education members met with school board members Thursday to remind them of the urgency behind improving the district's schools or forfeiting accreditation.
"We do know that loss of accreditation is of significance to a district. It's not something that I think any district wants to be able to say and I think it's something that communities should be concerned about," said Peter Sherman, executive director of school and district performance for the Colorado Department of Education.
More than a third of schools in the district are under-performing based on state standards. The state gives districts five years to take schools out of priority improvement and underperforming status. Eleven schools in Pueblo fall in that category; many of them have been in that status for nearly four years. If they don't improve by 2016, they will lose their accreditation.
Sherman said school performance is based on a number of factors, including student achievement and growth, along with post-secondary work readiness. He said low test scores account for the main reason schools are poorly performing.
School board president Dr. Kathy DeNiro said the board recognizes the urgency.
"There's risks that the state department has put on all the districts and that, in some ways, that helps us progress forward but we're really working hard that we don't get to that point," she said.
If the district loses its accreditation, it risks losing federal funding. Sherman said there's a possibility students would not be eligible to receive scholarships.