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Thursday Churn: Innovation schools

What’s churning:

A new snapshot of the state’s 22 innovation schools seems to indicate that the education reform effort is a work in progress.

The 2008 Innovation Schools Act created a process by which schools and districts could seek waivers from a variety of state and district requirements, including collective bargaining agreements, in order to create flexibility in hiring, salaries, schedules and educational programs.

Innovation schools are primarily a Denver Public Schools affair. Of the 22 schools with 8,320 students that have been granted innovation status, 19 schools with 7,204 students are in DPS. The others are Wasson High School in Colorado Springs District 11 and the schools in the Kit Carson district on the eastern plains.

The report, done by an outside consultant for the Colorado Department of Education, noted, “Few innovation schools implemented ‘outside the box’ educational approaches as part of their innovation plans” but that budget flexibility and calendar changes are commonly used by many innovation schools.

On achievement, the report noted, “In math and writing, eight innovation schools have seen some improvement in the number of students scoring proficient or advanced compared to their scores prior to implementing their innovations. However, in reading, five schools have yet to show any increase and other schools have seen their scores across all subjects decline each year since becoming an innovation school.”

A longer study, done last year by CU-Denver researchers, found the innovation law hasn’t sparked dramatic change (see story).

The new study was presented to the State Board of Education Wednesday. Read it here.

Teachers in the Denver metro area and Loveland are invited to participate in roundtable discussions on strengthening the teaching profession with U.S. Department of Education Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow Greg Mullenholz.

Mullenholz will meet with Council for Exceptional Children teachers at the Colorado Convention Center today and host roundtable discussions with Thompson Valley teachers at Thompson Valley High School later that day. Friday, he meets with master teachers at Jefferson County Education Association Headquarters and Saturday, he will close the trip with a roundtable discussion with Colorado Teachers of the Year at Colorado Education Association Headquarters. See a detailed schedule.

Mullenholz is one of 16 teachers selected as a 2011 Teaching Ambassador Fellow after a rigorous competition among hundreds of applicants across the country.

Colorado teachers interested in National Board Certification can apply for one of 100 federal scholarships worth $1,250 provided by the U.S. Department of Education. The scholarship window is open through Dec. 1, 2012, or until funds are no longer available. Learn more.

A beloved teacher at Denver’s Steck Elementary has spurred the school community to come together to try to help Andrew Menard find a new kidney. An all-school rally is scheduled at 10 a.m. today to support Menard, a fourth-grade teacher, who suffers from Polycystic Kidney Disease. Menard’s fellow teachers, students and others put together this video about their quest:

What’s on tap:

The Education Policy Center of the Independence Institute is sponsoring a brown bag lunch on educator effectiveness featuring UCCS professor Marcus Winters, who’s written a book on the subject. The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at 727 E. 16th Ave. Sign up here.

NBC News is bringing its “Education Nation On-the-Road” program to the new History Colorado Center starting today through April 16. More information & program schedule

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.

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