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Wednesday Churn: DPS goes to D.C.

UpdatedDPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg testified Wednesday before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce about the district’s new teacher performance assessment system, Leading Effective Academic Practice or LEAP.

LEAP, which launches districtwide in its pilot year next month, was developed over the past two years with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and a $10 million, three-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. DPS describes Boasberg’s talk in DC as part of a discussion about innovative approaches to teacher quality.

LEAP was piloted in 16 schools in 2010-11 and staff in most DPS schools voted to participate in a “no-consequences” pilot year starting in August. The initiative is billed as providing more meaningful feedback and targeted training and support, and uses peer observations.

Learn more about Boasberg’s testimony, including links to video, here and find out more about LEAP on the district webpage.

Also Wednesday, the Walton Family Foundation announced a $49 million donation to Teach for America, including $3 million for Colorado Teach for America. Roughly half of the gift will support TFA’s national effort to double the size of its teaching corps and half will support training of TFA members in seven communities, including Denver. Read the news release on the donation here.

Disclosure: The Walton Family Foundation is a funder of Education News Colorado.

What’s churning:

The Colorado Association of School Boards has made no secret of its reservations about proposed regulations to implement the state’s educator effectiveness law, but now it has put them in writing.

The association this week prepared a two-page memo for the State Board of Education detailing its concerns that the proposed rules infringe on local control of schools and go beyond the requirements of Senate Bill 10-191 and other state law on educator evaluations. (Read the memo.)

CASB is especially concerned about a proposed requirement that districts adopt a model state evaluation system or ask the Department of Education for a waiver to use their own systems. “We reject in its entirety proposed rule 6.01(B) (p. 26), which reflects neither the letter nor the spirit of the evaluation statute,” the memo says.

The proposed rule reads: “Each School District and BOCES shall implement the State Model System, unless it submits an application to the Department demonstrating that the School District or BOCES has developed a distinctive personnel evaluation system that satisfied the requirements in section 5.02 of these rules and the Department has approved this application.”

The memo also “rejects” five other proposed rules concerning CDE technical guidelines, saying, “This requirement adds an additional layer of regulation and grants CDE unfettered authority far beyond that contemplated by the Legislature.”

The main conclusion of the memo is that SB 10-191 gives the state powers in some areas and districts power in others, and discussion “should be structured around defining those matters that properly fall within the role of the state and those matters that properly fall within the role of the local district.”

CASB supported SB 10-191 during the hard legislative fight over the measure. The Colorado Education Association was the primary opponent of the bill then, but CASB has emerged as the most notable critic of some of the proposed regulations.

The state board will consider the draft regulations during its meetings on Aug. 3, Sept. 14 and Oct. 5. A final decision is scheduled for Nov. 9, and then the legislature gets to review the rules early next year. (The CASB memo summarizes testimony that Deputy Executive Director Jane Urschel is expected to give Aug. 3.)

See this page for links to CDE information about the proposed rules, including the current draft.

What’s on tap:

The Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline holds its first meeting from 1-5 p.m. today in room 0112 of the Capitol. More information

Good reads from elsewhere:

Texas bucks nation: Most states break out test scores for a variety of ethnic groups, but not Texas, where results for only whites, blacks and Hispanics are reported. Houston Chronicle

Shape up, Iowa: Education Secretary Arne Duncan this week joined Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad in calling for reform of the state’s schools, considered by some among the nation’s best. Muscatine Journal

DREAM Act: A new California law gives undocumented students easier access to college scholarships. Meanwhile in Maryland, enough signatures have been gathered for a public vote next year on the law making undocumented students eligible for instate tuition. SFGate.com & Baltimore Sun

Charter windfall: Florida charter schools are getting $55 million in state construction funding, courtesy of the Republican governor and legislature, while traditional schools are receiving no money. Orlando Sentinel

The Churn is published periodically during the summer.

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