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Friday Churn: A little delay

What’s churning:

Colorado Department of Education officials are planning to ask the 2012 legislature to extend a deadline for the State Board of Education to issue statewide high school graduation guidelines.

A 2007 law required the board to issue recommended graduation guidelines that school districts had to meet or exceed. A study group worked on the issue and made recommendations in 2008 (read that report here). The SBE had a deadline of Dec. 15, 2011, to issue the formal guidelines.

But the matter has gotten tangled up in a lot of other education reforms, including new state content standards, plans for specialized kinds of diplomas and a future revision of higher education admissions standards. Given all that’s going on, Deputy Commissioner Diana Sirko told the board Wednesday that “the timing is a little early” for the board to make any decisions this year.

The board agreed to the idea of trying to have the deadline moved to May 2013. Sirko said Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Summit County, is expected to carry the bill.

Graduation requirements are a tricky issue in Colorado, given that the state constitution gives control of instruction to local districts. That hasn’t stopped some lawmakers in past years from introducing bills that mandated specific classes. The 2007 “meets or exceeds” law was a compromise intended to meet legislators’ concerns while maintaining local control.

Get more information here on the work CDE has done on the issue.

Denver East High School Principal John Youngquist is leaving the school to become the district’s Director of Principal Talent Development. The position is funded by a five-year, $12 million Wallace Foundation grant awarded to Denver Public Schools in August.

“I was drawn to this opportunity because I am very excited to take my wonderful experience as leader of the East Angels’ community and use it to support a talented principal pipeline and development of strong principals across the city,” Youngquist said in a letter to the East community on Thursday.

DPS is one of six urban districts nationally to receive the grants, aimed at boosting the numbers of effective school leaders. You can read more about the grant in this EdNews story and this foundation news release.

Youngquist, who’s led East for five years, said he’ll leave the school Dec. 16 and assistant principal Andy Mendelsberg will serve as interim principal for the second semester. In the spring, Mendelsberg and others will be invited to apply for the principal’s job.

The State Board of Education on Thursday recognized 11 students who earned perfect 36 scores on the ACT test last school year. Colorado is one of 10 states that administers the test to all 11th-graders. The students, their schools and districts are:

  • Margaret Averill, Rocky Mountain High (Poudre)
  • Emily Baade, Grandview High (Cherry Creek)
  • Ryan Carson, Silver Creek High (St. Vrain)
  • Tae Kim, Cherry Creek High (Cherry Creek)
  • Bridget Louis, Arapahoe High (Littleton)
  • Liam Mazurowski, Palmer Ridge High (Lewis Palmer)
  • Colleen McCollum, Liberty High (Academy)
  • Emily Randall, Fairview High (Boulder Valley)
  • Joseph Sandoval, Smoky Hill High (Cherry Creek)
  • Steven Thomas, Cheyenne Mountain High (Cheyenne Mountain)
  • Michael Zimet, Aspen High (Aspen)

Update: The Independence Institute, which recently released a study of school district and BOCES compliance with the state law requiring certain financial information be posted on district websites, has made some corrections to that report. Those corrections note that the Elizabeth and Mapleton districts should have been listed as “compliant” with the law.

In an email to Education News Colorado, Ben DeGrow, senior education policy analyst for the institute, wrote: “A couple mistakes are regrettable, but we made sure the fixes were taken care of ASAP.” DeGrow said he’d reviewed records from the research project and “didn’t find any more problems.”

What’s on tap:

Today is Veterans Day and state offices and some school districts, including Denver, are closed.

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing our daily reality

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