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The Daily Churn: Thursday

What’s churning:

Summer is unofficially over. The last of the big metro area districts returns to class in the next few days – today, it’s Denver Public Schools and Monday, it’s Jefferson County Public Schools. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper joins DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg this morning for a back-to-school press conference. We’ll post video.

At least two media outlets have asked DPS whether they can get student achievement data by teacher name, apparently checking whether it’s possible to replicate the Los Angeles Times series that’s sparked a call for a boycott from the LA teachers’ union and praise from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The newspaper obtained seven years of reading and math test scores and used a statistical method known as value-added analysis to estimate educator effectiveness. It essentially rates teachers based on their students’ progress on tests from year to year. What’s raising eyebrows about the Times’ effort is that the newspaper is publicly naming teachers it rates among the best and worst in the city. No word from DPS on whether such information is public.

What’s on tap:

The Denver school board meets at 5 p.m. at district headquarters at 900 Grant St., with the monthly public comment hour scheduled to begin at 6:30. The agenda includes recognition of the top 20 high-growth schools on last week’s state tests and an update on the 2008 bond.

Jeffco’s school board also meets tonight at 5 p.m. at 1820 Denver West Drive in Golden. The agenda includes a discussion of standards-based grading for middle school students and a conversation about board “norms of behavior.” The board continues that conversation Friday with a four-hour meeting beginning at 1 p.m., when a facilitator will help them “develop strategies to … function as a highly effective team.” That agenda is here – click on Aug. 20 meeting. Same location as tonight’s meeting.

Finally, Douglas County’s school choice task force is meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at district headquarters, 620 Wilcox Street in Castle Rock. The district recently conducted a survey of parents and others about choice options. The task force is expected to create a Blueprint for School Choice in Douglas County, to be brought to the board in December.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Muscling up: Denver middle schools, long laggards, are making progress.

Dicey bet: D.C. mayor’s political future tied to school system reforms.

Ease up: Randi Weingarten wants the L.A. Times not to publish its teacher quality database.

Diverging tactics: Two national unions differ on approaches to Obama’s education agenda.

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