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Thursday Churn: Start-date study

What’s churning:

Denver Public Schools is launching a “Start Date” task force to examine whether the district should establish a new start date for the school year.

This follows an unusually hot beginning to the current school year, when record-high temperatures – and many older schools without air-conditioning – saw several students seek treatment for heat-related illnesses in August. New schools started this year on Aug. 10, while most remaining DPS schools started Aug. 18.

A task force of about 20 people will meet four times through the month of December, with the first meeting set for 5:30 p.m. tonight at DPS headquarters, 900 Grant St.

“There has been lots of discussion this school year about potential solutions to the problems posed when Denver experiences unusually high temperatures in late August,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “One of those proposed solutions has been to move back the start of school. We are open to that idea.”

Community input is welcome, Boasberg said, and will contribute to any calendar decisions made by the DPS board. The task force is slated to report to the board in mid-December.

Additionally, the task force will launch a survey the week of Nov. 7, which will also be used to gather public opinion on the subject. It will be available on the district’s website and its Facebook page. Parents, principals, teachers and community members are encouraged to participate.

After tonight’s task force session, the remaining meetings are scheduled for Nov. 2, Nov. 30 and Dec. 7. All meetings are scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Colorado educators who are wrestling with implementation of the Senate Bill 10-191 educator evaluation system aren’t alone in that task.

A new study, “State of the States,” surveys the national landscape and finds a wave of change across the U.S.

Some factoids from the executive summary:

  • Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have made some sort of change in teacher evaluation policies in the last three years.
  • In 2009 just 15 states required annual teacher evaluations. Now 24 states and D.C. require yearly reviews.
  • Today 23 states require use of student growth or value-added measures in evaluations, up from 15 two years ago.

The report was done by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which supports improved evaluation systems and use of value-added data. Read full report

Legislation is a messy business, and it sometimes takes time for the dust to settle and the details of lawmakers’ work to become clear. A legislative study committee approved a proposed overhaul of state laws on school discipline at an Oct. 18 meeting (read story), but the convoluted amendment process was hard to follow. Staff members of the Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline have compiled a clean copy of the amended bill, and you can read it here.

What’s on tap:

Gov. John Hickenlooper and two other top officials will discuss the administration’s early literacy initiatives this morning during a Denver meeting on “Why Literacy Matters,” sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and education Commissioner Robert Hammond are also on the bill. EdNews will be covering the invitation-only event and have a report later in the day.

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