Archive for the 'Grades and Standards' Category

29th 2014
Students, Families Need Less Mandate, More Education Freedom from Feds

Posted under Federal Government & Grades and Standards & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice

If you think the federal government has a benign effect on Colorado education, then you’re just not paying attention. Look at all the fuel it’s thrown onto the fire of the Common Core debate — here in Colorado and elsewhere.

The U.S. Department of Education’s work of linking Common Core to the federal Race to the Top grant program raised a lot of red flags. But according to a new Education Week story, a number of school districts now are rejecting the funds for other reasons: Continue Reading »

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24th 2014
Good News for a Friday: More Colorado Kids Graduate High School On Time

Posted under Grades and Standards & High School & learning

What better time to talk about good news than a Friday? Chalkbeat Colorado reports that the number of students completing high school on time is moving in the right direction:

The state’s graduation rate for the class of 2013 increased by 1.5 percentage points to 76.9 percent — the same increment of change as the year before. The dropout rate also declined to its lowest point since 2003, with 2.5 percent of students statewide dropping out compared with 2.9 in 2011-2012.

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22nd 2014
Dougco Collision on Testing and Accountability Could Rattle Reform Debate

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & School Accountability & School Board & State Legislature & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Have you ever watched a scene in an action movie (in my case, one that’s obviously edited for younger viewers to enjoy) where two cars, or trains, or planes are on a collision course? The characters in the movie may not realize what’s coming, but everyone watching in the theater or at home can sense that they are about to crash into each other. Then 3-2-1…

BOOM!!! Bent metal, broken glass, and explosions… cool stuff.

I exaggerate just a little to say that’s kind of how I feel today. Minding my own business at Chalkbeat Colorado, I’m directed to a Denver Post story with the headline “Douglas schools seek to opt out of federal, state standardized testing.” This is the super-conservative school board that’s transforming education, right? Continue Reading »

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16th 2014
I’ll Stick My Toe into the Fordham-Cato School Choice Argument… for Five Minutes

Posted under Grades and Standards & Just For Fun & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice & Tax Credits

There’s nothing quite like taking a step into no man’s land, wandering into an argument between friends. A lot of us are on the school choice bandwagon together, but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone has the same views of what a program should look like. The Fordham Institute this week unveiled its “public accountability and private-school choice” toolkit. It called for administering state tests to all voucher / scholarship recipients, and reporting school-by-school test results if at least 10 kids participated.

It took very little time for the argument to begin: Continue Reading »

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14th 2014
A Little Progress on Students First Policy Report Card No Reason to Stop Going

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & Research & School Choice & School Finance & Teachers

Some people may wonder why I like talking about report cards on schools and state education policies so much. Well, the answer is simple: Because they’re not MY report cards that MY parents have to sign. It’s hard for me to be objective about that “Unsatisfactory” mark I got in finger painting. Seriously harder than sharing about the latest round of Colorado School Grades or where Colorado districts rank on the new Choice and Competition Index.

This time around it’s the second annual Students First State Policy Report Card. A year ago, when I was still 5, I highlighted the good new/bad news that came with the inaugural release. Colorado ranked ninth among all the states plus D.C., but only earned a C grade.

Well, there’s two sides to the coin again this year. Colorado’s “GPA” improved enough to push us from number 9 to number 7 on the list. When it comes to student-centered policies that move the ball and bring opportunity and results, we’re still looking up at the likes of: Continue Reading »

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6th 2014
Easy for Me to Help Point Colorado Parents to Timely Info on Open Enrollment

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Parents & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

I love it when people make my job easier. (What? Ok, no, blogging here isn’t a “job,” child labor laws being what they are and all.) It’s even better when that aid comes from one of my Education Policy Center friends. Marya DeGrow has written two timely posts for the new Colorado School Grades blog — an innovation after the third year of data released rating schools across Colorado from A to F.

Marya’s first post explains how student learning styles may fit certain types of programs. The second highlights some of the great tools on the fabulous School Choice for Kids website: Continue Reading »

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3rd 2014
Can Schools Boost Brain Skills for Reading, Not Just Raise Test Scores?

Posted under Grades and Standards & learning & reading & Research & School Accountability & Suburban Schools

Thanks once again to the edublog linking queen Joanne Jacobs, a December Scientific American column by psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman caught my attention. And it should yours, too.

The author unpacks a study of Boston students that found while some schools improved performance on standardized academic assessments, they didn’t really improve measures of cognitive ability. In other words, better schools boost scores on math and reading tests, but those students’ brain skills still are functioning about the same.

Kaufman begins the column by citing some of his own recent research that unsurprisingly shows “good standardized test takers also tend to have high cognitive ability.” I am curious to see more about how the two results mesh. As more schools increase test scores without registering an effect on brain skills, does the identified relationship or tendency fade? Continue Reading »


19th 2013
And Then There Were Three (Years of Colorado School Grades)

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Parents & School Choice

Three is a magic number… Yes it is! This week Colorado School Grades (CSG) issued their 3rd annual report cards of every public school in the state. If you don’t know what the website is about, I’m not going to rehash the basics except to say: Continue Reading »


13th 2013
Big Testing (Why Not Funding?) Changes Coming Soon to Colorado K-12

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & Parents & School Choice & School Finance & State Board of Education & State Legislature

A couple of stories this week in Ed News Colorado serve as a reminder that whether or not there are new laws or reforms to debate, some kind of change will keep coming to the state’s schools. First comes from the State Board of Education’s Wednesday meeting, where we learned that schools and districts will have exactly one year reprieve on their formal accountability ratings after the new testing begins in 2014-15:

As for teachers, their students’ performance on the new tests will factor into their year-end evaluations starting in 2016.

“Some states declared a timeout,” said Elliott Asp, the special assistant to the commissioner and one of the architects behind the state’s plan for testing. “We don’t want to go there.”

We want to ensure greater accountability for learning results. But the shift to a new kind of testing system realistically demands some sort of accommodation. Providing a year’s worth of reprieve from sanctions or other consequences makes sense on the surface. The story drives home the reality of coming changes — a computerized test-taking system with new assessments rolling out in 2014-15. That puts the consequences back to 2015-16. Continue Reading »

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10th 2013
EAGLE-Net Broadband Delays Test Patient Hopes for Digital Learning Policies

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice & School Finance

The power and potential of blended learning stand out in several ways. It can give students more control over their education — like having a customized playlist — and enable them to advance at their own pace. It can expand the reach of effective teachers and allow them to focus time more efficiently on what they do best. It can foster more innovation to speed up the process of building effective learning systems. And it can do all that without requiring new revenue.

Some of the greatest potential to help students lies in Colorado’s rural areas, and some districts have begun to embrace the possibilities. But in order to make blended learning work, they have to access digital technology in the form of high-speed Internet access. Hence, an eye-catching new story by Andy Vuong in the Denver Post (H/T Complete Colorado): Continue Reading »

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