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Special Report: The Struggles Of Steel City’s Turnaround

A third of the public schools in Pueblo are failing.

And if the district doesn’t improve its students’ academic performance soon, the small southern Colorado city could pose the first big test of the state’s school accountability system, which gives struggling schools and districts five years to improve or face sanctions.

The district, which enrolls nearly 18,000 students, is the largest in the state to near the end of that timeline. Unless Pueblo’s most recent test scores reflect significant gains, officials will have just a year to get the district into the state’s safe zone. If they fall short, the next steps are uncertain, fueling the anxiety of Pubelo’s educators and parents. Colorado law requires state officials to strip the district of its accreditation, which could leave graduating students ineligible for college scholarships. The district could also lose significant amounts of federal funding.