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Briefs: Colorado lands a Gates grant

The Colorado Legacy Foundation will use a $5.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to continue work on its year-old Integration Project, an effort to implement the state’s new educator evaluation system and new academic standards in an integrated way in 13 school districts.

The project is intended to develop practices and methods that other school districts can use as they roll out the new content standards, the principal and teacher evaluation system, and other state reforms.

The grant was announced Monday at a combination news conference and pep rally at the Capitol, where Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia praised recent education reforms and effusively thanked the Gates Foundation for its support of state efforts.

“We are grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for recognizing the excellent work being done here in Colorado to improve student outcomes,” Hickenlooper said. “This funding will allow us to continue and expand the critical work of helping students advance through a meaningful education. It also helps us to grow a stronger, better prepared workforce of the future.”

The Legacy Foundation, using outside grants, works closely with the Colorado Department of Education on programs to implement the state’s reform program. Get more information about the Integration Project here.

→ More than 30 Colorado school districts have applied for the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top district competition. The program is offering districts a share of $400 million in grants that are intended to be used for personalized learning programs that will improve student achievement and educator effectiveness and close achievement gaps.

Nationwide, 371 applications representing more than 1,100 schools districts were filed. Smaller districts are allowed to apply in groups.

Colorado applicants include Adams 12-Five Star, the Brush district on behalf of itself and three other districts, the Center district and 13 others, Denver Public Schools, Durango schools and six other districts, Harrison, Mapleton, Poudre, Pueblo City and St. Vrain.

Awards will be announced by Dec. 31. Get more information in this DOE news release.

→ A new analysis by the Congressional Research Service provides legal support for Metropolitan State University’s new special tuition rate for undocumented students, according to U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.

Polis earlier requested an opinion from the services, an independent arm of Congress that provides analysis of legislation and public policy issues.

At issue is whether Metro’s tuition rate provides a “public benefit” under the terms of a 1996 federal law. The law restricts such benefits for undocumented people. According to a statement from Polis’ office, “‘programs and services provided by a state or locality for a fee’ are unlikely to be viewed as state and local benefits under the law. Therefore, as the tuition rate Metro State is offering to undocumented students covers the full cost of attendance, it should not constitute a public benefit.”

Get more information in this statement from Polis’ office.

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