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Week of 11/29/10: Teaching & learning tidbits

Colorado’s charter school law gets a B

The Colorado Springs Gazette analyzes a report that gives Colorado a B for its charter school law.

A report from the national Center for Education Reform has given Colorado a B grade for its charter school law. It’s not too bad, considering 29 other states received a C or lower because of the weakness of the laws. Colorado was sixth in the ranking behind Washington, D.C. Minnesota, California, Arizona and Michigan. The report lauded the first three because the laws promote growth of the charters.

Here, kids are encouraged to dream, not drop out

CBS Evening News covers a Chicago charter school that’s breaking new ground as part of its series, Reading, Writing and Reform.

Did your school day ever start with dancing, clapping and cheers? Not likely, reports CBS News chief national correspondent Byron Pitts. But Chicago Talent Development Charter High School is not like most places. Centered in one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods, it’s a new approach to an old problem.

“Our goal is to make it a game changer,” said Robert Balfanz, a Johns Hopkins researcher.

What’s next for Michelle Rhee

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports on the next job for Michelle Rhee, the now ex-school reforming head of Washington D.C.’s struggling schools.

With a controversial, hard-charging school reformer’s name topping the list of Gov.-elect Rick Scott‘s Education Transition Team, South Florida teachers’ union officials braced themselves Thursday for an assault on teacher tenure and a radical restructuring of the education system. Rhee resigned in October as chancellor of Washington D.C. public schools amid outcry from unions after she fired more than 200 teachers largely over student performance.

Gates urges school budget overhauls

The New York Times reports on billionaire Bill Gates’ latest suggestions to school districts interested in improving. He suggests they end teacher pay increases based on seniority and on master’s degrees, which he says are unrelated to teachers’ ability to raise student achievement. He also urges an end to efforts to reduce class sizes. Instead, he suggests rewarding the most effective teachers with higher pay for taking on larger classes or teaching in needy schools.

School effort aims to engage parents

The Denver Post reports on a new initiative to get parents involved in school reform.

Much of the talk around educational reform has focused on the role teachers play in students lives, all but ignoring another big player: parents. One Denver high school is changing that narrative, creating a multi-school system that empowers parents with the goal of getting more students into college.

Colorado foundation secures nearly $2 million to fund educator effectiveness

The Colorado Legacy Foundation has secured $1.9 million in grant funding to support efforts by the state and local school districts to improve educator effectiveness.

“For the first time, a new state law requires Colorado to identify what makes an effective teacher and principal,” said CLF Executive Director Helayne Jones. “It also requires that at least half of every public school teacher’s and principal’s evaluation is based on their students’ academic growth. The need for resources to assist this work is urgent, and we’re pleased to be able to bring those resources to the table.”

In total the grant funding secured by CLF comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($1.75 million); the JPMorgan Chase Foundation ($51,000); the Daniels Fund ($70,000); and the Donnell-Kay Foundation ($30,000).

More U.S. teens getting high school diplomas

MSNBC reports on the increasing numbers of students earning high school diplomas.

ATLANTA — The number of so-called “dropout factory” high schools in the United States has declined since 2002, translating into at least 100,000 more students getting a diploma, a new report shows.

But the report from America’s Promise Alliance released Tuesday also said that progress needs to increase fivefold for the country to graduate nine out of 10 students by 2020, a goal of the Obama administration.

Colo. students to be part of global math, science study

7 News reports on Colorado’s role in a new study that could shed light on America’s ranking globally in science and math education.

Colorado is among eight states chosen to have students tested in math and science for a study comparing their performance with students in more than 60 countries.

State education officials said Monday that the U.S. Department of Education chose Colorado, Alabama, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota and North Carolina to participate in the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. In Colorado, a sample of eighth graders in about 50 schools would be tested between April 4 and May 27. Individual test results won’t be available, but participating schools will receive school-level reports.

Student assessments to get overhaul

The Pueblo Chieftain tackles standardized testing revisions in Colorado.

The boards governing K-12 and college education in the state ratified an agreement Monday to change the way Colorado assesses students. The new model aims to better align the expectations for proficiency to enter college with the tests that measure growth through high school.

“Waiting for Superman” educator challenges Colorado business leaders

The Denver Post records comments of one of the nation’s leading education innovators during a recent Denver visit. Notable education reformer Geoffrey Canada looked out into a room of Denver’s business leaders Tuesday and pinned the future success of the country squarely on them.

“If the business community doesn’t get involved in this game, you are just going to watch this country decline,” said Canada, founder and chief executive of the Harlem Children’s Zone. “It is going to be your fault.”

Colorado foundation teams with Pepsi to help students in math and science

Colorado is competing for $250,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Project to help students succeed in college and excel in math and science. For the entire month of December, the foundation encourages the public to support public education by voting for “Colorado Legacy Schools” daily. The two projects with the most votes on Dec. 31 each win a $250,000 grant.

The initiative is focused on high-poverty, high-minority high schools and their feeder middle schools and aims to impact statewide policy with respect to the preparation of all students for college and careers in math and science.

Exclusivity of Greeley charter schools debated

The Denver Post reports on a charter school flap in Weld County.

A showdown is brewing over charter schools’ responsibility for educating low-income children. On Dec. 6, the Greeley-Evans School District 6 Board of Education will hold a special meeting to hear proposals from two charter school organizers asking to expand or build from scratch.

Union Colony Preparatory — the district’s first charter school — wants to expand its sixth-to-12th-grade school to include kindergarten through fifth grade. Newcomer West Ridge Academy wants to start a kindergarten-through-ninth-grade school.

2010 Centers of Excellence Schools announced

Colorado Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones this week announced the 32 schools identified as “Centers of Excellence” for the 2009-2010 school year.

Established by the Colorado State Legislature, the award recognizes schools that demonstrate the highest rates of student longitudinal growth as measured by the Colorado Growth Model among those that have at least 75 percent at-risk pupils in their student population.

The 2010 Centers of Excellence Schools are:

  • Adventure Elementary School, Mapleton School District
  • Atlas Preparatory School, Harrison School District 2
  • Beach Court Elementary School, Denver Public Schools *
  • Boston K-8 School, Aurora Public Schools
  • Bryant-Webster K-8 School, Denver Public Schools *
  • Bruce Randolph School, Denver Public Schools *
  • Centennial Elementary School, Harrison School District 2
  • Centennial High School, Centennial School District R-1
  • Center High School, Center School District 26 JT *
  • Cole Arts and Science Academy, Denver Public Schools
  • Cowell Elementary School, Denver Public Schools
  • Edison Elementary School, Colorado Springs School District 11 *
  • Fletcher Interm Science & Technology School, Aurora Public Schools
  • Force Elementary School, Denver Public Schools
  • Greenwood Elementary School, Denver Public Schools *
  • KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy, Denver Public Schools *
  • Martin Luther King Middle College, Denver Public Schools *
  • McMeen Elementary School, Denver Public Schools *
  • Montview Elementary School, Aurora Public Schools *
  • Moore K-8 School, Denver Public Schools
  • Nikola Tesla Education Opp. Center, Colorado Springs District 1 *
  • Nisley Elementary School, Mesa County Valley School District 51
  • Stedman Elementary School, Denver Public Schools *
  • Stein Elementary School, Jefferson County Schools *
  • Stratmoor Hills Elementary School, Harrison School District 2 *
  • Tollgate Elementary School, Aurora Public Schools *
  • Virginia Court Elementary School, Aurora Public Schools
  • West Denver Prep, Federal Campus, Denver Public Schools *
  • West Denver Prep, Harvey Park Campus, Denver Public Schools
  • Whittier K-8 School, Denver Public Schools *
  • Wyatt-Edison Charter Elementary School, Denver Public Schools *
  • Yale Elementary School, Aurora Public Schools *

*Denotes also 2009 “Centers of Excellence” award.

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