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This week’s teaching & learning tidbits

$1 billion on the line for education in Colorado

Decisions about more than $1 billion in funding for education are facing voters in Colorado’s Nov. 1 election.

More than half a billion dollars in property tax revenue is being sought by 29 Colorado school districts, primarily to build or renovate buildings and to bolster operating budgets that have been squeezed by losses in state aid. Read more in Education News Colorado.

U.S. News releases best science and math high school rankings

America’s students are struggling in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets of excellence. Today, U.S. News & World Report recognizes public high schools that are excelling in STEM subjects with its first ranking of the Best High Schools for Math and Science.

“21st century learning” has even little ones going high-tech

In Jonell Tafoya’s class at Gust Elementary School in southwest Denver, Liliana Lucero takes a stylus and uses it to identify the number 3 — her age — projected on the Promethean board. She taps the number and drags it into place filling a blank in a sentence on the board. Then — with some help — she reads it to the class. Read more in the Denver Post.

Montbello attacks math problem through fellowships

DENVER – In all of the schools in far northeast Denver, only about 10 percent of all kids are proficient in math. Administrators are working to change that through a large-scale tutoring effort. Check out this 9NEWS report.

Boulder Valley school board supports later school start

Boulder Valley School District students likely will start school five days later next fall than they did this year, as officials try to reduce the time children spend in sweltering classrooms without air conditioning.

The school board supported the calendar changes during a discussion Tuesday night, and the district’s calendar committee agreed the approach is reasonable. Read more in the Daily Camera.

More than half of Denver schools meeting/exceeding standards

For the first time since the introduction of the School Performance Framework, Denver Public Schools’ comprehensive annual school scorecard, more than half of DPS schools are meeting or exceeding standards on the SPF. The district first introduced the SPF in 2008, and it is widely considered one of the most balanced and comprehensive school performance tools in the country.  View summary report of 2011 School Performance Framework.

The multi-measure scorecards emphasize the year-to-year academic growth of the school’s students, while also factoring other critical data on college readiness, attendance, and student and parent satisfaction.

On the 2011 SPF, the number of schools earning the top “distinguished” rating jumped from 12 to 15. In two years’ time, the number of “distinguished” or “blue” schools in Denver has increased by 67 percent, from 9 to 15.  The number of schools earning the “meets expectations” or “green” rating also grew, from 48 schools last year to 58 schools this year. A total of 137 non-alternative DPS schools received an SPF rating this year, and 73 of them (or 53 percent) received a rating of either “distinguished” or “meets expectations.”  The School Performance Framework for alternative schools will be released in two weeks’ time.

In addition, the number of schools receiving the lowest “Accredited on Probation” or “Red” rating fell for the third consecutive year. Since the SPF’s introduction in 2008, the number of Probation schools has been cut by 60 percent, from 30 to 12. And of those 12 schools with a “Red” rating on this year’s SPF, six of them either closed at the end of last school year or are in the process of being phased out.

“The SPF is a detailed diagnostic and management tool that helps teachers, school leaders, and parents appreciate the strengths and improvement areas at their school, and helps them tailor their school-specific strategies to respond to those strengths and improvement areas,” DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg said.

“In terms of overall ratings, it’s very nice to see a strong increase in our high-performing schools and a clear decrease in the number of low-performing schools. I want to commend the teachers, school leaders, staff, students, and parents at our schools for their work in driving this change.”

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.