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Week of Oct. 25, 2010: Teaching & learning tidbits

Denver truancy court leads kids back to classrooms

The Denver Post reports on a program to deal with students who are habitually absent from class.

“Twice a month, students ages 6 to 17 whose unexcused school absences are out of control are called into Denver District Court, accused of breaking Colorado’s Attendance Law and forced to give officials a chance to help them.

In Denver, a student is truant after at least four unexcused absences in a month or 10 over the course of a school year. But only students with more than 20 unexcused absences are called to court.

Truancy courts are a last resort for school districts after all school-level interventions have failed.

Alternative proposals, impassioned pleas

Education News Colorado addresses the controversy surrounding plans to revamp low-performing schools in Far Northeast Denver.

“A second meeting in as many weeks in a crowded school cafeteria in Far Northeast Denver produced two alternate proposals to a district plan to improve its struggling schools there.

But there was no consensus on any one plan from the 40-member community committee that’s been meeting since April to advise Denver Public Schools on how to reform Montbello High School and five feeder schools.

Instead, as the meeting stretched past its allotted 8:30 p.m. end time, members agreed to complete an emailed survey that will weight their priorities for implementing whatever proposal is approved by Denver school board members next month.

It’s still unclear how far the committee will go in supporting – or not – a district proposal that has prompted protests from some activists throughout the city. A draft committee statement to the board includes the phrasing that the DPS “comprehensive regional proposal for school improvement will achieve its goal of providing high quality outcomes …”

K-12 budget cuts neutralized – for now

Education News Colorado provides the latest update on threatened budget cuts.

“Gov. Bill Ritter is proposing to cut current state support of schools by $156.3 million, money he said would be replaced by the $159 million in federal Edujobs funding recently awarded to the state.

The governor announced his latest budget balancing plans to reporters Friday afternoon. He’s trying to cover a $262 million shortfall indicated by revenue forecasts last month and also wants to transfer money from a couple of severance tax funds (including one intended to fund higher ed construction projects) to the general fund and delay some Medicaid payments.

DPS charter school takes kids with severe disabilities

The Denver Post’s Jeremy P. Meyer reports on a niche charter school that defies any notion that charters only serve the highest performing students.

“A familiar — and well-founded — criticism of charter schools is that most don’t serve all students, specifically children with significant special needs.

Last year, only two students with severe cognitive or physical disabilities were among the 7,000 charter- school students in Denver Public Schools.

And around the state, only two charter schools have been set up to specifically work with children with disabilities: Rocky Mountain Deaf School in Golden and Vanguard Classical in Aurora.

DPS is working to change that.

Omar D. Blair Charter School opened Denver’s first charter-based multi-intensive center program for students with significant disabilities. The program has five children from kindergarten to second grade who were placed there by the district.

DPS may shutter low-performing Edison charter

The Denver Post also reports on a plan to close Denver’s lowest-performing school, Manny Martinez Middle School.

The 2-year-old charter school, co-located in West High School, had the worst performance of any school in the district’s annual ranking system, which rates schools based on student academic performance and other factors.

District officials met with parents Tuesday to tell them about the proposal to close the school, one grade at a time, by 2013.

No sixth-graders would enroll for the next school year, and the boundary would change, funneling neighborhood students to schools on the Lake Middle School campus.

Moms’ literacy pivotal to kids’ academic success

US News and World Report reports on study findings reinforcing the importance of literacy in a child’s home.

“Improving mothers’ literacy skills may boost the success of low-income children in schools, says a new study.

U.S. researchers concluded that a mother’s reading skill when her children are young is the most critical factor influencing her children’s future academic success, even more important than other factors such as family and neighborhood income.

For their study, the researchers examined data from 2,350 children, ages 3 to 17, and their families in 65 communities in Los Angeles County.

While a mother’s literacy had the biggest impact on young children’s academic success, neighborhood income was the most important factor for children ages 8 to 17. This fits with the idea that influences outside the home become more important as children grow older, said the researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of California, Los Angeles.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was recently published in the journal Demography.”

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