06/14/2011 10:52 am ET | Updated Aug 13, 2011

The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation Gives $9.7Million For Colorado Reforms

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested a three-year $9.7 million fund into four of Colorado's school districts to initiate and aid educational reforms.

The grant will no doubt be a help to whichever Colorado school districts that are selected to receive it, since Governor John Hickenlooper cut $250 million from the K-12 budget and Colorado has lost two rounds in the national Race To The Top Funding.

During a press conference Monday morning, Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia said he hoped the grant would help bolster student preparedness for college or work, alongside the integration of new Colorado Academic Standards.

The state plans to transition from the CSAP testing program left over from the No Child Left Behind Act to the new system--a transition that requires more assessment tests until implementation of the new plan in 2014.

According to a press release issued by the Colorado Department of Education, the state was was chosen as a recipient of funding partly because of complementary reform efforts like last year's SB 10-191, monitoring educator effectiveness. Half of the new educator evaluation would be based on student growth.

President and CEO of the Colorado Legacy Foundation, Dr. Helayne Jones said during the conference:

We know that there are pockets of excellence throughout Colorado and that some of this great work in educator effectiveness is already being done. .Taking this work to the next level will require integrating these elements in a systematic, systemic and sustainable manner. This investment will give us the boost we need to take accelerated steps in that direction

Colorado has over 840,000 public school students in grades preschool through 12 spread across 178 state school districts with just over 26 percent of that number enrolled in higher education.

“Colorado’s education reform plan is singularly focused on student academic growth and achievement of postsecondary and workforce readiness,” said Colorado Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond. “The state and the country will be looking to us to take the lessons learned from these four districts across Colorado to ensure that every district is able to implement them with high quality.