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Monday Churn: SBE OKs test plan

Updated 4:45 p.m. – The State Board of Education today unanimously approved requirements for a new state testing system, meeting the deadline set for it in the 2008 Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids law. The board also voted unanimously to hire Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates of Rosemont, Ill., to help conduct the search for a successor to Commissioner Dwight Jones.

Key elements of the new testing system include adding social studies tests at least once in elementary, middle and high school, expansion of reading and math tests in the 11th grades and a more systematized structure of formative and interim tests for students. But a change in the current CSAPs is some years in the future, given that there’s no funding yet for the switch. (See this background story on testing reform.)

The board chose Hazard over Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and McPherson and Jacobson of Omaha, Neb., the firm that found Jones for the superintendent’s job in Las Vegas. Hazard, which ran the searches that led to the hiring of past DPS superintendents Michael Bennet and Jerry Wartgow, bid $29,500 and estimated expenses in a range of $5,000 to $23,000 for the search.

Rick O’Connell, Douglas County superintendent from 1981 to 2003, will be the lead Hazard associate working on the search.

The board also approved another 99 school ratings. Ratings for most Colorado schools were approved at last month’s meeting but some were outstanding, for example, if school officials disagreed with the state’s initial decision.

Here’s how to find your school’s state rating and how to find your district’s state rating.

What’s on tap:

It’s a busy week ahead and budget is a common theme.

Tuesday, two school board meetings are on the schedule. The Douglas County school board meets at 5 p.m. and district headquarters, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. There’s time set aside for public comment on the district’s controversial voucher proposal – that starts at 7 p.m. – plus an apparent vote on a resolution cryptically titled “choice task force recommendations. But the resolution was still not public last night. It’s listed as “pending.” See the agenda here.

Also, the Aurora board meets and starts with an executive session on budget and negotiations issues at 5 p.m. in the Educational Services Center at 1085 Peoria St. in Aurora. The regular board meeting starts at 6 p.m. Here’s the agenda.

Thursday, the Jefferson County board meets at 6 p.m. at the district offices, 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. The agenda is here. Board members will hear a report about the Nov. 13 community budget forums held across the district before recessing in closed session to discuss negotiations with employee groups. Notes from each of the five budget forums are linked from the agenda.

Also, Gov. Bill Ritter and education Commissioner Dwight Jones will honor the 14 Colorado school districts rated as performing with distinction at 10 a.m. at the state Department of Education. They’ll also recognize the state’s top performers in academic growth among schools with more than 75 percent poverty rates. Names of those schools, which include several from Aurora, Denver and Harrison District 2, are here.

Friday, the annual Department of Education budget hearing with the Joint Budget Committee will start at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Hearing Room A of the Legislative Services Building, 200 E. 14th Ave. Based on what happened at the budget briefing on CDE last Friday (see story), the hearing could be interesting.

The University of Northern Colorado trustees are scheduled to meet at the university center on campus in Greeley on Friday. Details such as meeting time are not yet available.

Good reads from elsewhere:

  • A plea: NYC chancellor-designate Cathie Black asks critics to give her a chance. The New York Times
  • Uneven disicpline: Gay and lesbian teens punished more by schools, cops: Study. The Washington Post
  • Tough task: Abolishing the U.S. Department of Education easier said than done. Education Week

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