Archive for the 'Middle School' Category

17th 2014
Jeffco Middle School STEM Discussion Makes Me Scratch My Head

Posted under Education Politics & math & Middle School & Parents & School Board & School Choice & Sciences & Suburban Schools

Last night little Eddie was able to drop in on a school board meeting for what was until recently the largest school district in Colorado. That’s right. The Jeffco Board of Education took the show out into the community, coming to the people and giving residents a chance to sign up online to make public comments. (Apparently, this is all a new thing.)

So it was kind of funny to hear a couple of the commenters complain that the school board wasn’t being transparent enough because they increased transparency. I may be pretty smart, but some things are hard for me to get.

Part of the reason for the big crowd at the Arvada High School auditorium was a debate about adding sixth grade to Deer Creek Middle School as part of an expanded STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) program. Now I don’t necessarily have an opinion on this course of action, but the way it’s been handled sends up red warning flags. Continue Reading »


20th 2013
Louisiana Successfully Revamps Course Choice: Pay Attention, Colorado!

Posted under Courts & High School & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Middle School & Online Schools & School Choice & School Finance & State Board of Education

After an earlier hiccup left the innovative program’s status in doubt, I’m excited to see creative Louisiana leaders get the go-ahead for a new plan to launch Course Choice in 2013-14. The state’s Board of Education yesterday approved $2 million in funding for a pilot program that enables secondary students in schools graded C or below to take an approved course from one of 40 different public or private providers. (Other students are only eligible to select a course if their school doesn’t offer the subject.)

Three of the leading national advocates in the digital education arena — the Clayton Christensen Institute, Digital Learning Now, and iNACOL — teamed up to celebrate the news, explaining what the program really offers: Continue Reading »

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30th 2013
Identifying the Good Kind of Disruption in (Colorado) Blended Learning Innovation

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & High School & Innovation and Reform & learning & Middle School & Online Schools & Research & State Legislature & Teachers

When is it okay to be disruptive in class? Most teachers rightly would frown on the idea of little whelps like me acting out or speaking out of turn when a lecture or other class instructional activity is taking place. But disruptive innovation via the blended learning strategy is an entirely different matter. I’m talking about the future!

In recent weeks I’ve introduced you to an innovative idea to provide oversight of expanded access to digital learning opportunities in Colorado, explained why the school finance tax proposal coming to a ballot near you missed the chance to break out of the 20th century, and highlighted how blended learning models can benefit teachers. But as usual, the good folks at the Clayton Christensen (formerly known as Innosight) Institute now have me thinking even a little more deeply how technology, policy, and practice very well could merge to transform the way learning takes place.

Hats off to Christensen, Michael Horn, and Heather Staker for their new paper, Is K-12 blended learning disruptive? An introduction to the theory of hybrids. And I’m not talking about cars that can run on different types of energy. The authors make an interesting case for two different kinds of blended learning models, based on their potential to foster long-term change: Continue Reading »

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18th 2012
Colorado School Grades Website Returns to Inform Parents for Second Year

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & High School & Independence Institute & Middle School & Parents & PPC & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Can you believe it’s been a whole year since the launch of the Colorado School Grades website? My friends at the Independence Institute are proud to be one of the 18 sponsoring partners of this helpful resource.

The passing of 12 months means a whole new set of data, and a lot of curious parents searching through the user-friendly Colorado School Grades site to see where their child’s school rates. Grades are assigned to all Colorado public schools based on objective measures of academic achievement and academic growth. Congrats to the top-rated schools at each level for this year: Continue Reading »

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14th 2012
Six Falcon 49 Schools Win Innovation Status as Board Nears Important Crossroads

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & High School & Innovation and Reform & innovation schools & Middle School & PPC & Principals & School Board & State Board of Education & Suburban Schools

About six weeks ago I shared with readers that the Falcon School District 49 innovation plan was nearing a crossroads. That crucial time may now be upon us. As reported in the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado State Board of Education yesterday unanimously approved requests to give six District 49 schools official innovation status:

“Innovation is here to stay,” said Bob Felice, Innovation Zone leader/assistant superintendent, adding that the plans grant a lot of autonomy to teachers and parents.

Yesterday’s Board votes bring the list of innovation schools to 33, including 24 from Denver Public Schools and now the following six from Falcon 49: Continue Reading »

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23rd 2012
“True North” Report Calls on Denver Public Schools to Refocus, Raise the Bar

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & Grades and Standards & High School & Innovation and Reform & learning & Middle School & PPC & Research & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Urban Schools

A team of local education reform groups has partnered to release the new report True North: Goals for Denver Public Schools. It’s a quick, worthwhile read for anyone interested in improving the outcomes of American urban education. Denver Public Schools is often cited as a reform model for districts in other cities across the land, but this new report says even DPS isn’t aiming high enough.

True North places a healthy focus on academic achievement as measured by “exit-level proficiency,” or how much students know when they complete elementary, middle and ultimately high school. As Ed News Colorado commentator Alexander Ooms notes, this focus corrects a misplaced obsession on academic growth scores as an end unto themselves. While DPS is above the 50th percentile in growth, not enough students are catching up to where they need be. In some cases, they’re actually falling further behind.

DPS justly has been lauded for the development of its School Performance Framework (SPF) that incorporates a range of meaningful factors to determine how well schools are doing. But the new report makes a great argument that the current bar is set too low. Expecting more DPS schools to earn 50 percent of the available points on the SPF isn’t enough to ensure students are enrolled in a “quality school.” I agree with the report that a quality school should have to reach at least 70 percent on the SPF. Continue Reading »

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3rd 2012
New Study: Sleeping In, Starting Late Helps Middle Schoolers Learn a Little More

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Middle School & PPC & Research & School Board

I write here about a lot of different issues related to education and education policy. But this one may be a first for me: How early should school start? When it comes to the bigger kids, middle school and high school students, new research by Finley Edwards featured at Education Next suggests it may actually be better to let them sleep in a little longer, especially the underperforming students. After looking at schools and student results in Wake County, North Carolina, he concludes: Continue Reading »

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24th 2012
Foundation Gives High-Performing Poorer Denver Area Schools Cause to Celebrate

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & High School & Independence Institute & learning & Middle School & Parents & PPC & Principals & Public Charter Schools & School Accountability & School Choice & Urban Schools

Today’s lead story at Ed News Colorado highlights the disparity in private parent and community giving within Denver Public Schools. Reporter Charlie Brennan notes that no school raked in more than the nearly $230,000 at Bromwell Elementary, a school with a low 8 percent study poverty rate. The general findings are no surprise, yet nonetheless disappointing:

At the other end of the poverty – and fund-raising – spectrum is Johnson Elementary in southwest Denver, which reported fewer than $3,000 in private gifts in 2010-11.

If a donation of five or six figures came through the door of the school, where 96 percent of students are low-income, said Principal Robert Beam, “You’d be writing a story about a principal who is dancing in the streets all day long.”

The timing of the story is remarkable. Why? Yesterday substantial checks went out to 14 metro area public schools and 2 public charter management organizations (CMOs) serving high-poverty student populations, with awards totaling $500,000. And they didn’t just go out to schools based on need, but to schools with a proven record of serving their students well: Continue Reading »

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6th 2012
West Denver Prep or Wherever, It’s Now for Colorado Public School Open Enrollment

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Middle School & Parents & PPC & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

The hubbub about New Year’s is past, the Christmas toys have grown old and boring. What’s to get excited about around here — except for maybe the Denver Broncos in the playoffs? Well, ’tis the open enrollment season for families in many Colorado school districts who are looking for a better, more effective educational option for their child. Like Jeffco Public Schools, the state’s largest district, where the first round of choice enrollment began a couple days ago and continues until January 24.

Denver Public Schools students and parents have from now until January 31 to exercise their school choice, using a new process that allows families to list up to five schools in order of preference. The Denver Post opined recently that the new, streamlined system is fairer and ultimately will prove more user-friendly. Parents can learn more from DPS at meetings either tomorrow morning at East High School or Wednesday evening at George Washington High School.

The range of educational options is expanding within DPS, and sometimes coming directly to families as schools compete for students. Viva Colorado’s Roxana Soto reports (H/T Ed News Colorado) that leaders from the newest West Denver Prep school are going door-to-door in the city’s Montbello neighborhood to recruit fifth-graders into their highly successful program: Continue Reading »

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13th 2011
Effective Math and Science Program Making Big Leap in Colorado High Schools

Posted under Denver & High School & learning & math & Middle School & PPC & Sciences & Teachers

Raise your hand if you agree with me that the USA — and Colorado in particular — can do a better job preparing enough students for success in the areas science, math and technology. Don’t worry about feeling self-conscious if you are in a room with other people. If you can’t overcome it, at least mentally raise your hand. That’s right. If you agree with me, and I don’t see how you couldn’t, then you should be excited by some news I have to share.

The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) is a four-year-old program (younger than me!) that has demonstrated successful results in increasing the number of students who pass Advanced Placement (AP) exams in math and science, particularly among underprivileged students. The Colorado Legacy Foundation has reported similar positive results here in our state for the seven schools who participated in a less-than-fully-vamped version of the program in 2010-11.

The news? The effective math and science program is expanding dramatically in Colorado: Continue Reading »

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