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Wednesday Churn: Dropouts drop a bit

Updated 1:45 p.m.Colorado is making some progress in reducing school dropout rates but the problem remains serious, according to a study released today.

Citing the impact of initiatives undertaken in the last three years, including a 2009 dropout prevention and student re-engagement law, the report said the state’s dropout rate for students in grades 7 to 12 declined in the last three years from 4.4 percent to 3.6 percent. That equals about 3,000 fewer students dropping out. About 15,000 Colorado students dropped out in 2008-09.

The report, by the Colorado Children’s Campaign and the Donnell-Kay Foundation, also reported that Colorado “has more dropouts than 37 other states, including some with a significantly higher number of high school students.”

The study suggests a number of best practices for schools and policy changes, including raising the mandatory school attendance age to 18 and changing the way the state tabulates school enrollments to provide districts with more incentive to keep kids in school. Read the full report here.

The state report comes on the heels of a new national study by the America’s Promise Alliance and two other groups. That report found the national graduation rate increased from about 72 percent in 2002 to 75 percent in 2008 but that “American continues to face a dropout epidemic.” More information on that report here.

The Colorado Legacy Foundation has received $1.9 million in grants from four foundations to help fund educator effectiveness efforts at the Colorado Department of Education and in school districts.

Part of the funding will be used to pay staff and support the work of the State Council on Educator Effectiveness, which is developing definitions of teacher and principal effectiveness and recommendations for implementing other parts of the new educator effectiveness law. The council began work last March but got off to a slow start because of lack of staff resources and other reasons.

The grants include $1.75 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $51,000 from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, $70,000 from the Denver-based Daniels Fund and $30,000 from the Donnell-Kay Foundation, which also is locally based (more details in news release).

What’s churning:

Gov. Bill Ritter and his successor, Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper, are making the education rounds today – at both ends of the K-12 spectrum.

Ritter will join Aurora Public Schools Superintendent John Barry at 9:30 a.m. to introduce the Community Workforce Planning Team, a partnership between the district and more than 30 community groups aimed at creating P-20 academic and career pathways.

The effort is an attempt to eliminate the oft-talked-about Colorado Paradox – the fact that the state has one of the highest percentage of adults with college degrees yet ranks near the bottom of high school graduates going on to college.

Improving P-20 routes – or preschool-to-college – has been a key plank of Ritter’s education efforts as governor. Aurora’s P-20 partnership is a cornerstone of the district’s VISTA 2015 strategic plan. This morning’s event is at 15771 East 1st Ave.

A little later in the day, Hickenlooper will be keynote speaker at the second annual Colorado Business Luncheon on Early Childhood Investments.

Denver’s mayor will be unveiling an early childhood development toolkit for employers, billed as “an online resource that provides the business sector with the resources and knowledge needed to be part of the solution to enhance Colorado’s early childhood environment.”

The luncheon is sponsored by Executives Partnering to Invest in Children or EPIC, a coalition of businesses, nonprofits and foundations advocating investment in early childhood from birth to age 8. It’s at the Grand Hyatt Denver ballroom from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

As mayor, Hickenlooper helped win passage of a sales tax increase funding the Denver Preschool Program for the city’s 4-year-olds.

What’s on tap:

The Metro State trustees meet from 7:30 a.m. to noon in the Tivoli Student Center at the Auraria campus, room 320. The first part of the meeting will be an executive session of the presidential evaluation committee. Here’s the agenda.

Adams 12 Five Star school board members meet in work session at 5 p.m. and start their regular board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Location is the Aspen Room at district headquarters, 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton. The agenda is here.

Good reads from elsewhere:

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