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This week’s teaching & learning tidbits

Measure would encourage some kids to be held back a grade

DENVER – If a child is struggling in school it can be tough to decide whether to hold them back a grade.

bipartisan bill backed by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado), would encourage kids to be held back a grade if their reading skills aren’t up to standard by third grade.

Under the provisions of the bill, the decision can be made without consent from parents, though it does require schools to reach out to parents. If parents don’t get involved in the decision, holding a child back would happen by default. Check out this 9NEWS report.

TED offers free video lessons for high school and college students

Imagine you’re a high school biology teacher searching for the most vivid way to explain electrical activity in the brain. How about inserting metal wires into a cockroach’s severed leg and making that leg dance to music?

Starting Monday, that eye-popping lesson, performed in a six-minute video by neuroscientist and engineer Greg Gage, is available free online. Read more in the Washington Post.

U.S. graduation rate rises slightly, report finds

The last straw for 17-year-old Alton Burke was a note left on his door. The high school dropout picked up the phone and re-enrolled at South Hagerstown High.

Burke missed roughly 200 days of class, but Heather Dixon, the student intervention specialist who left the note, never gave up on him. Check out this NPR report.

Exploring the link between reading level and dropout rates

In 2010, President Obama, along with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Gen. Colin Powell and his wife, Alma Powell, co-chairwoman of America’s Promise Alliance, a youth organization, introduced Grad Nation, a plan to reverse America’s high school dropout rate. Even putting aside the obvious benefits to individual students, they argued that high school graduates fuel the economy, while dropouts cost  taxpayer dollars. The alliance’s latest report, issued on Monday, shows that we’re making progress, but not fast enough — and highlights some of the reasons that every year, more than a million students don’t make it to graduation on time, if at all. Read more in this New York Times blog.

DPS might have to pay to create jobs for pink-slipped teachers

Denver Public Schools last year set aside more than $7 million to create jobs for 110 teachers whom schools did not want to hire and will probably set aside a similar amount next year unless administrators and the union can reach an agreement about how long those teachers must remain on the payroll under a law passed in 2010. Read more in the Denver Post.

Boulder Valley homeschool program moving forward

The Boulder Valley School District is moving forward with its plans to open a part-time program for the district’s homeschool students.

The K-8, part-time program is designed to replace the Boulder Options program, which is administered by Aurora Public Schools and enrolls about 125 students. Altogether, Boulder Valley has about 350 registered homeschool students. Read more in the Daily Camera.


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.