Archive for the 'learning' Category

May
14th 2014
International Report Shines Light on Colorado Education Performance Gap

Posted under Grades and Standards & International & learning & math & Parents & Research

Update, 5/14: RiShawn Biddle shares some further valuable insights into the PEPG report’s findings on his Dropout Nation website.

Almost exactly one year ago to the day, I brought your attention to a report from America Achieves that showed our nation’s lackluster K-12 education results are by no means just a matter of poverty.

This week the good folks at Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG) have published some insights that go a little more in depth and put a new twist on the comparison. The high-powered academic trio of Eric Hanushek, Paul Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann — the same crew that gave us Endangering Prosperity — have taken from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s own words to show readers that it’s “Not Just the Problems of Other People’s Children.”

Readers also can go back and watch the hour-long event where Peterson explains the findings and answers some questions. Continue Reading »

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May
8th 2014
Newly Reported Test Scores Bring (Mostly) Disappointing News

Posted under Grades and Standards & learning & math & reading & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Urban Schools

The good news from yesterday is summed up in two words: Sine Die. Near as I can tell, that’s Latin for “The legislature gets out of town, productive everyday citizens breathe a sigh of relief.” (But maybe I need to enroll in one of Colorado’s fine classical schools to find out for sure.)

The not-so-good news comes from a pair of test results that leave me sadly shaking my head. First, Colorado’s critical 3rd grade reading TCAP scores took a slight dip this year. We’re talking about 71.5 percent passing the proficiency bar in reading, as opposed to 73 percent last year.

The Denver Post story mentions one metro district that has bucked the trend, with Colorado Public Radio’s Jenny Brundin shining the spotlight on Westminster: Continue Reading »

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April
16th 2014
How to Avoid the Munchkins: A Little Tenure Reform Advice for Kansas

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & learning & Principals & State Legislature & Teachers

The teachers union may have ordered the death of its own bill to weaken mutual consent for teacher placement. But HB 1268‘s twin, the CEA’s lawsuit to enshrine tenure protections as a state constitutional right, lives on.

Meanwhile, a glimpse across the eastern border reveals the winds surrounding this debate are blowing in a very different direction. A weekend article from the Kansas City Star reports that Kansas leaders are having a heated debate about some late-developing significant tenure reform:

For generations, the state promised that before getting canned teachers could get an appeal. If a hearing officer disagreed with the teacher’s bosses, the instructor stayed in the classroom.

Continue Reading »

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April
7th 2014
Jeffco Board Makes More Money Follow Students, Brings a Jan Brady Smile

Posted under Denver & Innovation and Reform & learning & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & Suburban Schools

Once upon a time, say two years ago, I felt the heat for focusing a lot of extra attention on a certain large school district between Denver and Colorado Springs. You could almost hear a number of nearby Jan Bradys crying out in frustration: “Dougco, Dougco, Dougco!” Back then I said:

But hey, don’t complain at me! Get your school board and district to set the bar high by making some bold reform moves, and I’ll give them some attention, too.

While Dougco’s Marcia continues moving along, Jefferson County’s Jan can crack a smile. And not just because 10 days ago I filled you in with some compelling reasons to keep an eye on the suburban district’s open union negotiations (Hint: another session starts today at 4 PM in the fifth floor board room at 1829 Denver West Drive).

Jeffco gets more attention now, though, because of two big items from Thursday’s Board of Education meeting. Clearly, the new majority not only has made a laudable push for transparency but also has begun setting the bar high with its own brand of bold reform moves. Continue Reading »

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April
3rd 2014
Yes, Fordham, Colorado School Boards Matter; Let’s Encourage True Local Control

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & learning & Research & School Accountability & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Teachers

A long, long two-and-a-half years ago I shared with you my thoughts about school boards going the way of the horse and buggy. The article written by education reform senior statesman Checker Finn prompted me to weigh in:

Unlike many other areas of education reform, this is one in which Colorado would not figure to be a leader. Why? Finn himself points out that Colorado is in a small, select group in which school districts “are enshrined in the state constitutions.” And with that comes some measure of more power to effect positive, effective change within each of our state’s 178 school districts. That might help explain why Douglas County is such a shining light in the area of choice-friendly policies.

Continue Reading »

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March
28th 2014
Filling In a Few Compelling Reasons to Go Watch Jeffco Open Union Negotiations

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Research & School Board & School Finance & Teachers

What a difference six weeks can make! When I last focused in on happenings at Jeffco schools, the local teachers union had taken its political spectacle from the boardroom to the classroom. Meanwhile, the school board moved ahead discussing its priorities and engaging the community in a search for a new superintendent.

It was good to see the two sides move ahead with open negotiations for the first time in recent memory. Now my parents, neighbors, and I can see the give and take of what’s going on with a giant chunk of a nearly $1 billion budget. But the big question to ask: Are the policies they’re advocating good for students? Continue Reading »

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March
24th 2014
Colo. Digital Learning Policy Alternate Route Gives Some Spring Break Hope

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & School Accountability & School Finance & State Board of Education & State Legislature

Have you ever tried to plan a trip to an important new destination? Maybe it was a long road trip for SPRING BREAK or a family vacation or a visit to an old friend who moved to a new town. You program your GPS, or at least make a search on Google Maps first. (Back in the old days, they tell me you had to actually use a fold-up road map, plotting your way across highways from one city to the next.)

One thing those old road maps couldn’t tell you — and even sometimes the fancy technology lets you down — is about major road construction, a rush-hour traffic jam, or a bridge washed out ahead. You may have already plotted your route, but at that point an unexpected development compels you to go back, change the plan, and find a detour.

Almost a couple full years ago now, my Education Policy Center friends worked with online school leaders and other smart policy folks to help craft a Digital Learning Policy Road Map for Colorado. The brief report laid out a sequence of concrete changes that needed to happen to ensure digital technology was best used to “enhance opportunities for Colorado’s children to achieve educational success.” Continue Reading »

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March
3rd 2014
More Time to Study the K-12 Testing Issue Would Be Greatly Beneficial

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & learning & School Board & State Legislature & Suburban Schools

I’m not sure whether to breathe a grateful sigh of relief, or to sit on the edge of my seat in curious anticipation. Maybe I can do both. Several weeks ago I told you about a possible approaching education reform collision, as the outside-the-box thinkers in Douglas County pushed a bill to give high-performing districts waivers from certain state tests.

Well, a little negotiation and compromise later, and I’m relieved to say that House Bill 1202 was transformed from a head-on policy change to a sit-down study. Given that there are a number of conflicting claims and questions about the state of testing, the time to examine and analyze would be greatly appreciated. Continue Reading »

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January
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.

Continue Reading »

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January
8th 2014
Evidence Doesn’t Back Keeping Kids “English Language Learners” Longer

Posted under learning & Research & School Finance & State Legislature

Yesterday I talked about the new legislative session and some of the issues I will be watching. On the list is a discussion of changes to programs that serve students from families who don’t speak English as a native language. The Chalkbeat Colorado legislative preview mentioned what sort of action might be in the works:

There’s wide interest in a bill to improve programs for English language learners, increase funding and extend the number of years students can be served by such programs. A bipartisan ELL bill failed in 2013, and this year there may be competing Democratic and Republican versions.

What’s the problem with that? Well, research strongly suggests that improving ELL programs and extending the years a student can be funded as ELL may be conflicting goals. A recent edition of the Education Commission of the States’ electronic digest The Progress of Education Reform landed in a friend’s inbox recently. The topic? “English Language Learners: A Growing — Yet Underserved — Population.” Continue Reading »

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