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This week's teaching & learning tidbits

In search of black teachers in Denver

DENVER — When Malcinia Conley attended Montbello High School in the early ‘80s, she was inspired by the black teachers she saw at the front of her classrooms.

Lucas Nkwelle teaches chemistry at Montbello High School, where 29 percent of students are African-American compared to 12 percent of teachers and 31 percent of total staff.

“It was a feeling of, here is someone with an understanding of the cultural things that I am experiencing, so I believed they were someone who could help me to get through them,” said Conley.

“I’d look at them, and believe, ‘You can do anything you want.’ I could follow in their footsteps.”

Conley did just that. Today, she is one of 233 African-American teachers in Denver Public Schools. She’s back at her alma mater, where classes she teaches include Intro to Urban Education, a DPS program geared toward encouraging students to pursue teaching. Read more in Education News Colorado.

Ed commissioner search ends

Robert Hammond, who’s been serving as commissioner of education since December, is the sole finalist for the permanent job and is expected to be formally hired by the State Board of Education next week. During a brief teleconference Monday afternoon, the board voted 7-0 to name Hammond sole finalist, choosing him over Aurora Superintendent John Barry. The board had voted 7-0 on April 21 to name the two as finalists. Read more at Education News Colorado.

Feedback welcome on proposed teacher effectiveness rules

One year after the passage of Senate Bill 10-191 calling for a new statewide approach to measuring educator effectiveness, the Colorado State Board of Education has announced a timeline and process for public input prior to formal adoption of rules, currently anticipated for November.

As a first step in the process, the state board will begin in May to explore in further detail the recommendations from the State Council on Educator Effectiveness.

The discussion will begin on May 11, when the department will provide a follow-up to the April 13 presentation from the council. This meeting is designed to address those areas where the council did not make a specific recommendation and to ask whether the state board agrees with particular recommendations. From 10 a.m. to noon May 12 the board will hold a study session to further explore the recommendations from the council.

For those wishing to provide testimony at the state board meeting on May 12, a sign-up sheet will be provided.

Throughout this process, the draft rules along with recommended changes will be posted on the state board website. As suggestions come in, the department will post the recommended changes. Written comments on the report or recommendations to the state board on the draft rules may be sent by e-mail to, or by mail to: State Board Office, 201 E. Colfax Ave., Room 506, Denver, CO 80203-1087.

After gathering input from the state board, the department will begin drafting proposed rules, which will be provided to the board June 8.

Two Colo. teachers honored in math/science

WASHINGTON – President Obama named 85 mathematics and science teachers as recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Thursday. Two of them are from Colorado. The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. Each winner was selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians,and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level.

Susan Parsons of Boulder (math) and Patricia Astler of Castle Rock (science), are the recipients for the state of Colorado. Learn more on 9NEWS.

Mixed reaction to teacher evaluation plans

It wasn’t as if teachers and principals around Colorado were holding their collective breath, awaiting the release of the report from the state Council on Educator Effectiveness with its recommendations on how they ought to be evaluated in their jobs. No, it was more like, “Reform proposals? Take a number and get in line.” Read more in Education News Colorado.

Garcia highlights education priorities

The top education goals of the Hickenlooper administration are implementation of the educator effectiveness law, improving third-grade reading scores and raising college completion rates, Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia said Thursday. Garcia spoke to reporters and a large group of state employees and education lobbyists in his first major public talk since Senate confirmation this week as director of the Department of Higher Education.

In addition to that job and being lieutenant governor, Garcia is the head of the yet-to-be-convened Education Leadership Council. Read more in Education News Colorado.

Gates to help schools adopt common core standards

The Gates Foundation is announcing on Wednesday that it will be investing $20 million in game-based learning and other tools to help the new national education standards into the classroom. Read more in the Seattle Times.

Aurora schools tout tech to female students

Ryan Handy gave the group of about 20 middle school girls free reign to be as destructive as they wanted to be. Gathered around old computer towers at the Aurora Public Schools Professional Learning and Conference Center on Tuesday, the sixth-graders held screwdrivers and wrenches as they waited for his cue. Read more in the Aurora Sentinel.

Overland H.S. principal accused of plagiarism

AURORA – At first, there were the stories about the student newspaper being shut down over a story related to the death of a student wrestler when the season ended this winter. Now, Overland High School Principal Leon Lundie is under the microscope yet again.

This time bloggers on the Huffington Post say Lundie, who is in his first year as principal at Overland High, plagiarized portions of his monthly Message to the Community. Check out Fox 31.

High school classes may be ‘advanced’ in name only

More students are taking ambitious courses. According to a recent Department of Education study, the percentage of high school graduates who signed up for rigorous-sounding classes nearly tripled over the past two decades. Read more in the New York Times.

Public comment sought on federal “Title” fund priorities

Each year, School District 6 receives federal funding for specific “Title” programs that assist with various needs. These programs include:

  • Title I – Reading and math support for schools serving large numbers of students who have significant socio-economic needs.
  • Title II – Support for hiring and retaining highly qualified staff.
  • Title III – English Language Acquisition.

District 6 is currently seeking recommendations from the community on how these programs can be best used to improve student achievement during the 2011-12 school year. Comments and recommendations should be sent to Kathi VanSoest, director of federal programs and grants, at 348-6260 or

English fluency grows in St. Vrain Valley School District

LONGMONT – More English-language learners in the St. Vrain Valley School District are becoming fluent than ever before, according to assessment data from the Colorado Department of Education. Read more in the Longmont Times-Call.

Colorado could ditch more school tests

DENVER – Opponents of standardized tests for schoolchildren have a fresh weapon this year in Colorado — the high price tag of exams. Colorado lawmakers are expected to consider joining other states in dropping statewide testing requirements beyond those required by the federal government. Check out the story on 9NEWS.

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