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Wednesday churn: Manual HS goes long

What’s churning:

Manual High School students may still have Fourth of July fireworks ringing in their ears when they report for the first day of school next year under the Thunder Bolts’ extended calendar, which was announced Tuesday.

Manual students in 2012 will start school on July 9 and attend classes through June 14, 2013, giving them a 210-day schedule, with 25 of those days devoted to off-campus, experiential learning. The school day will run from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

The experiential learning component of the Manual program will take students throughout the state and the country and help them live what they are learning, according to Vernon Jones, director of community engagement at Manual.

Students’ learning will become immediately relevant as they are able to “learn it and live it” through a series of planned grade level experiential trips that are linked to their core academic learning, Jones said.

Ten schools that are part of the DPS turnaround efforts in the city’s far northeast are all on extended calendars – 187 days compared to the standard 181. Also, when the West Leadership Academy and the West Generation Academy open at West High School in 2012, they will both be on 200-day calendars.

An additional number of charter schools and innovation schools area also on extended calendars, although DPS spokeswoman Kristy Armstrong did not provide a full listing of those late Tuesday. She did say that she was not aware of another school starting its calendar in July.

Tim Foster, president of Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, is one of four invited witnesses who will testify this morning in Washington to the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. Today’s hearing is titled “Keeping College within Reach: Discussing Ways Institutions Can Streamline Costs and Reduce Tuition.” According to the committee’s web site, the hearing “will provide committee members an opportunity to examine the causes of rising college tuition and learn innovative ways some institutions are lowering costs.”

In his prepared remarks, Foster asks Congress to “unburden” colleges from regulation and maximize “innovation and flexibility.” Foster mentions that CMU has a $317 million impact on the regional economy, has seen “high-need” enrollments jump from 2,481 students in 2009 to 4,643 students this year and has developed a program that matches students with jobs around campus. “To me, success is defined by providing a high quality educational experience with a sharp eye towards the costs associated with delivering it,” says Foster in the prepared statement. “If first generation and middle income students cannot afford our tuition, the level of quality is rendered significantly less meaningful.”

The committee web site includes a link to watch the hearing online here. The hearing begins at 8 a.m. Denver time.

Results at Denver Public Schools will be the focus of a luncheon today as a trio of education advocacy groups release a report on the district’s achievement and growth rates. A+ Denver, the Colorado Children’s Campaign and Metro Organizations for People (MOP) are the three groups behind the report, Start with the Facts: Strengthening Denver Public Schools’ Education Pipeline.

A media advisory says the report “looks at key transition points for Denver Public Schools (DPS) students from 2005 to 2011 in order to assess outcomes and trends in academic achievement and growth as students move from preschool through K–12 and into college. In addition, the report identifies barriers to student success and recommends potential strategies for improvement.”

5280 Magazine is out with its list of 50 “most powerful” around town and they include several individuals with strong ties to education, including Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, and Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. Johnston ranks 30th and the magazine suggests he might be Colorado’s next political star. Fields ranks 37th and has “gained the type of respect that politicians dream about.” DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg comes in at 40th while DPS Chief Academic Officer Susana Cordova and Ajay Menon, a Colorado State University dean, are dubbed “rising stars.” Complete list

Good reads from elsewhere:

Colorado is one of five states that have applied for waivers from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and also have a “firm mechanism” in place for implementing statewide teacher evaluation systems. At least, that’s according to Education Week. The other four states with a leg up are Tennessee, Indiana, Florida and Oklahoma. Another six states are in varying stages of developing guidelines or organizing task forces and don’t appear to be in as good a position to have the waivers granted. At least, that’s the implication. “This isn’t a dealbreaker for getting a waiver,” notes the story. “At least in theory, states only need to have plans in place regarding evaluations. But plans and requirements are, obviously, two very different things.” Full story

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