Archive for the 'Suburban Schools' Category

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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May
7th 2014
Student-Based Budgeting: Part of Colorado K-12 Future that Can Work

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Parents & Principals & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Many years ago, someone famously said: “I have seen the future, and it works.” Ironically, Lincoln Steffens said that about the Soviet Union, and he ended up being grossly incorrect.

What I see included in the future of Colorado K-12 education is considerably more modest and considerably less likely to backfire. When it comes to positive and promising development in Colorado K-12 education, I don’t need to be quite so brash — nor expect to be just plain wrong — as Mr. Steffens was.

I’m talking about student-based budgeting, which directs money to schools based on the needs of individual students attending there rather than on (often secretly) negotiated staffing formulas. As students exercise their choices within our K-12 public education system, the dollars as much as possible should be portable along with them. This move in turn puts more autonomy at the local school level, where decisions can better be made to benefit students. Continue Reading »

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May
2nd 2014
Adams 14 Troubles Revealed; Jeffco, Colorado Can Work to Overcome

Posted under Federal Government & Independence Institute & Journalism & Parents & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Yesterday I got to share some good education news. Today it’s something different. I probably should have done it the other way around, because it’s better to end the week on a high note (why is it that lately when I use the term “high note,” some big people start laughing and telling jokes about Colorado?).

When looking at this April 25 report from the U.S. Department of Education, the laughter stops. According to the report, Adams County School District 14 leaders spent four years disregarding serious claims about hostile discrimination against Hispanic students, parents, and staff members.

Zahira Torres shone the light on the extent of the problem in Wednesday’s Denver Post. The story contains more examples than I can recount in this space. But they include incidents such as: Continue Reading »

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May
1st 2014
Outperforming International Peers: A Delicious Piece of Dougco PISA News

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & math & reading & Research & Sciences & Suburban Schools

Nearly a year ago I pointed readers to an enlightening report from a group called America Achieves. The report showed how, based on international tests, even our nation’s middle-class students were falling behind their socioeconomic peers in many other countries. The findings reminded us why the bold innovators in Douglas County have been working to raise the bar.

But how do Dougco students themselves compare with their international counterparts? We have a fresh sample that offers a clear glimpse. Yesterday the district released 2012 PISA results for 15-year-olds in the two participating Dougco high schools: Continue Reading »

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April
28th 2014
Denver Post: “Fundamental Fairness” in Jeffco Charter Student Funding Plan

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Principals & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Board & School Finance & State Legislature & Suburban Schools

When the Center for Education Reform (CER) released this year’s Charter School Law Rankings and Scorecard in March, I didn’t take time to give you an update. Colorado scooted up from 10th place to 9th place, not for any improvements of its own but because one state (ahem… Missouri) took a small step back.

But it’s action on the local front that soon may show Colorado outperforming the ranking of our law, at least in one important respect.

CER uses a 55-point scale to rate the quality of state laws related to public charter schools. The formula takes into account the availability of different entities to authorize charters, various restrictions on the number of charters that can open statewide, and to what extent these schools can operate free from a number of different regulations.

More than a quarter of the total scorecard, however, is tied to the issue of funding equity — whether charter students have access to the same share of operating funds and relevant facilities dollars as their counterparts in district-run schools. In this regard, a significant number of states top Colorado, though only by small margins. (Even the best states have a ways to go.) 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
17th 2014
Colorado Supreme Court Will Hear Dougco School Choice Case, More Waiting Ahead

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Independence Institute & Parents & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools

One of the fun parts of being an edublogging prodigy is the chance to be spontaneous. Sometimes my plans to write about a certain topic take a back seat when some fresh but long-awaited breaking news. The kind of breaking news that allows me to go back into the archives and stroll down memory lane, while also thinking ahead about what comes next.

This morning the Colorado Supreme Court released its list of case announcements, and what to my young and eager eyes should appear on page 5 but the case of Taxpayers for Public Education v. Douglas County School District. It said “Petition for Writ of Certiorari GRANTED.”

My smart adult friends told me that means the Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear about the famous and groundbreaking Choice Scholarship Program, and settle the legal dispute. For those who need a quick refresher about the currently enjoined (inactive) local private school choice initiative: 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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February
28th 2014
Three Online Learning Items Blended Together for Your Friday Enjoyment

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & Research & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

It’s Friday, time for my version of the Dagwood sandwich, the supreme pizza, or burrito with everything (please!). The only difference is this hodgepodge is going to be about online and blended learning. I’ll leave it up to you to find a way to “blend” all the pieces together before pouring some chili sauce on top. Okay, not literally.

First, one of the most successful and noteworthy blended learning providers is expanding to another major city. Blast off with me in celebration at the news that Rocketship Education will be opening a school in the nation’s capital in 2015: Hooray!! Add Washington, D.C., to the list of Milwaukee and Nashville as expansion sites from the original California launching pad. Continue Reading »

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