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Wednesday Churn: NCLB waiver

Updated 11:30 a.m. – State Department of Education officials are proceeding with an application for waiver from some No Child Left Behind rules after getting a informal go-ahead this morning from the State Board of Education.

The key element of the waiver would allow the state and school districts to use only the state system of accrediting and rating schools and districts. Districts currently are rated using both that system and the NCLB system.

The state system relies significantly on student academic growth over time and has the goal of all students being proficient by 10th grade and college and workforce ready by high school graduation. The NCLB system rates the average yearly progress of schools, focusing on annual test scores, and has the goal of all students being proficient by 2014.

The Colorado application also will include a request for more flexibility in using federal funds to help a broader range of struggling schools and more flexibility to use federal money for programs to improve educator effectiveness.

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced a process through which states could seek waivers. Many state have gotten restive about NCLB requirements and about Congress’ failure to update the law.

Under the current timetable, Colorado will submit its application later this fall and could learn by the end of the year if its waiver is granted.

Education Commissioner Robert Hammond first raised the possibility of a waiver at the August board meeting. Some members expressed reservations at that time, but members who commented today supported the idea.

What’s churning:

The State Board of Education’s meeting agenda today is packed with items related to future projects and possibilities, ranging from perhaps waiving out of the federal No Child Left Behind law to new kinds of high school diplomas.

The schedule includes a briefing from Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and briefings on the NCLB situation, on online programs and on development of the new state testing system, including approval of projected costs and the implementation plan.

The board also will hold a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. on the proposed regulations for implementation of the educator effectiveness law, hear a report on recommendations by the Expanded Learning Opportunities Commission and approve the board’s 2011-12 strategic goals. Full agenda

We’ll have full coverage of the meeting later today, but if you can’t wait you can listen to the meeting here.

University of Colorado faculty received more than $790 million in sponsored research funding during the 2010-11 academic year. That total was down a bit from the prior year’s $884 million – but that number was inflated by $145 million in federal stimulus funds. Release

The Denver Preschool Program has named Eileen Piper as CEO. She’s been acting head of the agency since James Mejia took a leave of absence to run for Denver mayor and then resigned in June after he lost. The program administers the preschool stipends that are funded by a Denver tax. Release

William Shakespeare has been enlisted in Colorado school anti-bullying efforts organized by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and CU-Boulder’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. From Sept. 20 through Oct. 21, the three-person theater troupe will perform a 50-minute abridged version of “Twelfth Night” in more than two dozen Colorado schools. Each performance will be followed by a post-show talk with the actors and classroom workshops about bullying prevention. Release

It’s that time again. U.S. News & World Report has issued its 2012 “Best Colleges” rankings. College administrators love to tout (and spin) the rankings, but others in higher ed take a more nuanced – or downright critical – view of the rankings, which sort and resort the nation’s colleges and universities in all sorts of regional and size categories. If you’re interested in seeing how Colorado campuses did, start your search here.

What’s on tap:

Education News Colorado and Colorado State of Mind, the weekly public affairs show on Rocky Mountain PBS, are teaming up this Friday to present a special show about the state’s new educator evaluation system. The regular half-hour broadcast at 7:30 p.m. will be followed by a 60-minute session that will be streamed live on the RMPBS website.

Participants include Ulcca Hansen of the Boettcher Teachers Program at the Public Education & Business Coalition; Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association; Principal Michelle Mann of Freed Middle School in Pueblo; Jessica Keigan of the New Millennium initiative, and teacher Michelle Conroy and Superintendent Joe Petrone of the Moffat schools district.

Last week’s Colorado State of Mind featured a discussion about Proposition 103, which would increase some state taxes for five years to provide extra funding for schools and colleges. You can get more information about this Friday’s show and watch last week’s broadcast on this page of the RMPBS website.

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