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This week's teaching & learning tidbits

Denver middle schools recruiting and captivating students

At one recent Denver middle-school open house, the principal greased visiting fifth-graders’ palms with chocolate. Another dangled international travel before visitors. And one captivated recruits with classroom chairs that actually bounce, to accommodate fidgeting pre-teens.

Practically every Denver middle school now invites fifth-graders and their parents to an open house. Many host fifth-graders as they “shadow” an older kid through a middle-school day. And two share a full-time marketer whose job is to convince families that their neighborhood schools are worth a second look. Read more in the Denver Post.

Rice makes plea for education in America

(CBS News) Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she’s concerned about the economy, the deficit, and the “jaded” nature of American politics – but she says the country’s “biggest single problem” is with the public school system.

Rice, speaking to CBS’ Bob Schieffer on a special Thanksgiving edition of “Face the Nation,” argued that the nation’s educational system is failing crucial populations, and that “it’s gonna drive us into class warfare like we’ve never seen before.” Check out this CBS report.

Colo. school incentive program awaits more funds

A pilot program to improve college readiness among Colorado teens produced more high scores on students’ Advanced Placement tests — and paid $69,500 to teachers as a reward.

But it’s still unclear how well the National Math and Science Initiative’s AP program could work in Colorado because some incentives — such as payments to students who get high scores — were dropped when Colorado didn’t get federal Race to the Top funds to fully implement the program in 2010-2011. Educators are waiting to hear whether grant money will be available to expand it in coming years. Read more in the Washington Examiner.

Principals protest role of testing in evaluations

Through the years there have been many bitter teacher strikes and too many student protests to count. But a principals’ revolt? Read more in the New York Times.

Colorado in running for $17.9 million in Race to the Top funds

The Colorado Department of Education learned Wednesday that the state is in the running for $17.9 million in the latest try for federal Race to the Top funds — almost $5 million more than predicted.

Colorado was one of seven states that successfully completed an application for a round of Race to the Top set aside for finalists that didn’t receive money in the second round. Read more in the Denver Post.

Pre-collegiate program puts kids on track for college success

In a country where roughly 25 percent of high school students drop out and never earn their diplomas, and only one-third of the graduates move on to higher education at the college level, the Roaring Fork Re-1 School District is particularly proud of the outcomes of its unique Pre-Collegiate Program. Read more in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

DPS SchoolChoice plan set to go

The Denver Public Schools’ new streamlined “one form, one timeline, all schools” enrollment system now has the participation of every charter school in the district.

The system, which the district is branding as SchoolChoice, will replace what DPS said was a welter of more than 60 different enrollment and wait-list processes and is designed to eliminate confusion and ensure equity in district-wide enrollment. Read all about it in Education News Colorado.

Boulder, St. Vrain schools see spike in ‘homeless’ students

Ashley Murphy started at Erie High School her sophomore year, after her mom lost her job and her family moved from Wheat Ridge to live with her grandparents in Frederick.

Her mom later moved to Denver, but Ashley, now a 17-year-old senior at Erie High, stayed with her grandparents because she didn’t want to switch schools. But their relationship deteriorated and the constant conflict was “so stressful I was making myself sick,” Ashley said. Read more in the Daily Camera.

Garfield Re-2 revs up its teacher mentoring program

When you hear school districts talk about recruitment and retention, what does that really mean?

“When teachers enter the profession today, the chance that they will leave teaching entirely within the first five years is higher than ever,” said Garfield Re-2 Director of Curriculum Larry Brady. “We know that the quality of the classroom teacher has a significant impact on student achievement. For us, the business of recruiting, and especially retaining, quality teachers has a direct correlation to student achievement.” Read more in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

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