Archive for the 'State Board of Education' Category

11th 2014
Testing, Data Issues around Common Core Alive and Kicking in Colorado

Posted under Federal Government & Grades and Standards & Parents & State Board of Education & State Legislature

Four weeks ago I posed the question: Are the wheels starting to come off Common Core in Colorado? It seems no less to be the case now than it did then. As I’ve stated before, the real concern comes down to limiting federal influence in our K-12 schools. On the other side of the equation, we need a reasonable, equitable, transparent, but minimally intrusive system of testing and accountability.

The current trajectory has some parents, educators, and others upset, and at least in some cases, for very good reasons. The problem is the term “Common Core” has become so inclusive of so many issues, and it’s so difficult even to get agreement on some basic facts, that a little guy like me sometimes just throws my hands up and sighs. Continue Reading »

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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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13th 2014
Whoa… Are the Wheels Starting to Come Off Common Core in Colorado?

Posted under Federal Government & Grades and Standards & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Accountability & State Board of Education & State Legislature

The more the pro-Common Core crowd doubles down, the more traction the opposition gains. And I can’t say I’m terribly disappointed. Snarky online quizzes that studiously avoid the term “Common Core” aren’t helpful for making the case to back national standards.

On the other hand, Rick Hess’ clever and insightful satire (I hope that debating federal policy with a UFO is indeed satire) sheds some real light on why their effort is spinning its wheels at best, and more likely starting to spin out of control: Continue Reading »


30th 2014
Lawsuit to Protect Tenure Over Students Makes CEA Not Only Wrong But Lonely

Posted under Courts & Denver & Governor & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & State Board of Education & State Legislature & Teachers & Urban Schools

Being a little kid and all, I can be sensitive to what my peers think sometimes. Have you ever stuck your neck out there, the only one in the crowd choosing something different from everyone else? If it’s a flavor of ice cream, that’s no big deal. But if it’s a True or False question, and you are the only one who chooses the wrong answer, that can be a little bit harder to take. If it’s big people making the wrong choice on something that doesn’t help students, then it’s even worse.

In case you missed it, the big news around here yesterday was the teachers union’s lawsuit and legislative attack on Senate Bill 191. The bottom line is they don’t like part of the law that gives principals the authority to keep ineffective teachers out of classrooms (known as “mutual consent”).

My Education Policy Center friends quickly responded: Continue Reading »


23rd 2013
Can Colorado Make K-12 Dollars Clearer?

Posted under Governor & Independence Institute & Research & School Board & School Finance & State Board of Education

(H/T Ed News Colorado) Yesterday’s Washington Post posted a story under the headline “Colorado’s Hickenlooper wants to put school budgets online”:

“So far, no state’s ever had total transparency on how their tax dollars are spent to every school,” Hickenlooper said in a recent interview.

Looking ahead to 2014, it’s encouraging to read about bipartisan political will to track every dollar of school spending. Now that the smoke from Amendment 66′s smoldering wreckage has started to clear, it’s nice to see greater financial transparency as a serious policy discussion rather than a selling point for a (failed) billion-dollar tax increase. But will the governor continue to insist that creating this kind of online financial transparency would cost $18 to $20 million? Continue Reading »

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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
Amendment 66 Hurts Colorado Economy, But “Where’s the Beef?” on Reform

Posted under Education Politics & Research & School Finance & State Board of Education & Teachers

Following the Independence Institute’s own analysis of the economic harms the Amendment 66 billion-dollar tax hike would inflict, the Common Sense Policy Roundtable has released a long-term forecast that shows “without substantial improvement in student performance, Amendment 66 is drag on the Colorado economy.”

The second in the pair of studies sought to estimate how much better student performance would have to be in order to make the tax increase proposal a neutral proposition. University of Colorado business school researcher Brian Lewandowski framed the question to the Denver Post in somewhat dramatic terms:

“Even when you’re the best in the nation, graduation rate alone doesn’t get to break even,” he said. “We need a lot of improvement in educational performance for it to have profound positive impact on Colorado’s economy. But it’s not unachievable.”

Continue Reading »

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27th 2013
New Mexico’s State Financial Transparency, Education Leader Shine Brightly

Posted under Just For Fun & School Finance & State Board of Education

For whatever reason, people in Colorado don’t often think of looking up at New Mexico. And that’s not just because they are below (south of) us on the map. When it comes to education outcomes, we hold the upper hand — spending about the same amount per student, but also having fewer students in poverty and having other challenges.

Still, New Mexico has at least one education-related achievement to which we could aspire: a first-in-the-nation record at state education financial transparency, while Colorado only musters a D-plus. Also admirable is the attitude and approach of their Education Secretary (kind of like our Commissioner) Hanna Skandera. She told the Santa Fe New Mexican:

When we put students’ interests first, the criticism is welcome as an opportunity to get better at what we do. When we’re putting adult interests or politics above our kids, then we have to take it back and ask the question: Is this about our kids or politics and adults?

It’s Friday afternoon, and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up the week. Kudos to Skandera, and onward and upward for Colorado!

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11th 2013
Scholarship Tax Credits and the Bizarre Scapegoating of Corporate Philanthropy

Posted under Courts & Independence Institute & Journalism & Parents & Private Schools & School Finance & State Board of Education & Tax Credits

The education establishment in Alabama doesn’t seem to have recovered from the big blindside victory for kids four months ago, when the state adopted a scholarship tax credit program. It’s made for a lot of fodder in the local media, including today’s gem from the Times Daily Montgomery Bureau:

Several [state board of education] members have been outspoken against the Accountability Act and lack of input they had into it.

“How in the world are we allowing corporations to pay for children to go to private schools?” said Ella Bell, of Montgomery. “Is there any legal ramifications of this?

“I am going to seek legal advice on this because it is unfair to the children of my district.”

Continue Reading »

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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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