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Tuesday Churn: School to work

What’s churning:

Colorado Succeeds, the business-oriented education reform group, is out with a new paper asserting that the state’s schools are failing to produce enough qualified graduates to meet workforce needs.

Among the findings of the report, titled “The Business Case for Education Reform”:

  • Colorado produces more than 60,000 jobs a year but only 30,000 graduates with the qualification to fill them.
  • 22,000 Colorado jobs a year require a high school diploma, but there are only 18,000 high school graduates a year.
  • If half of 2010 dropouts earned a diploma and 60 percent of them completed some colleges, the gross state product would grow $300 million a year. The gross state product is about $260 billion a year.

“Our goal is to sound the alarm and enlist business and community leaders to address the unsatisfactory education-to-workforce pipeline,” according to the report.

The authors don’t recommend detailed educational or financial reforms, but argue “Colorado must monitor, measure and maintain the critical components of the education pipeline that correlate with long-term student success. Investments in education must be based on progress made toward closing the achievement gap, raising ACT scores, increasing graduation rates and lowering college remediation rates.”

Concerns about an educated state workforce are nothing new among education, business and civic groups. The fact that Colorado has relied for decades on the talents of people educated elsewhere even has a longstanding name – the Colorado Paradox.

Colorado Succeeds has been active on various education issues in recent years. The early literacy bill pending in the legislature is actively backed by the group, along with the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Stand for Children and the Colorado Children’s Campaign.

Colorado charter school law gets a “B” in an annual ranking by the Center for Education Reform, a Washington-based advocacy group. This is one of those ratings where states are measured against a uniform set of factors. The survey just rates the perceived strength of state charter school laws and doesn’t include factors like enrollment growth or academic achievement. Read the group’s report.

What’s on tap:

The Aurora school board meets at 6 p.m. today in the Mt. Massive Room of the Professional Learning and Conference Center, 15771 E. First Ave. Agenda items include a discussion of the district’s Rebounds, Futures and Options programs.

Douglas County’s school board meeting originally set for today has been canceled and re-scheduled for April 10.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Arts and achievement: A study by the National Endowment for the Arts concludes that low-income students who participate in arts activities have higher academic achievement and a better likelihood of going to college, according to this Associated Press story.

Teacher evaluation data: The Tennessee Senate has given unanimous approval to a bill that would close teacher evaluation records to the public. A House vote on a companion bill is expected next week, reports the Nashville Tennessean. Debate over whether evaluations should be public has intensified around the nation as more states and school districts move to integrate student achievement data in teacher evaluations.

Flunking the test?: A media critic argues that American public schools have never been better by many important measures and blames “overheated” education writers for portraying the education system as broken and promoting unproven reform efforts. Read his report in the American Journalism Review.

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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