Colorado

Daily Churn: Grad rates inch up

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

It’s sometimes hard to see change looking at year-to-year education data, and a longer view can show a different picture.

Colorado’s high school graduation rates rose to 76.4 percent in 2009 from 67.5 percent in 1999, according to calculations in the 2012 version of the Diplomas Count report by Education Week.

The study shows Colorado slightly ahead of the national rate for every year in the 10-year period. For 2009 the national rate was 73.4 percent, and Colorado ranked 18th in the nation. See the state report here, along with an explanation of how the study calculates graduation rates.

Each year’s Diplomas Count has a special focus, and the 2012 version examines Hispanic students.

“Nationwide improvements were driven, in large part, by impressive gains among Latino students,” the report noted.

“Because the Latino graduation rate, at 63 percent, lags substantially behind the U.S. average, this group makes up a disproportionate number of the students who do not finish high school. Of the 1.1 million members of the class of 2012 that we project will fail to graduate with a diploma, about 310,000 (or 27 percent) will be Latinos. Two states — California and Texas — will produce half the nation’s Hispanic dropouts.”

Hispanics make up 28.4 percent of Colorado school enrollment, compared to 21.5 percent nationwide.

Get links to more report documents here. There’s also a clickable map that allows you to drill down for individual school district information.

University of Northern Colorado trustees on Friday approved tuition rates for the 2012-13 academic year. Tuition for resident undergraduates enrolled in 13-16 credit hours will rise by 3 percent, or $164, to $5,464 for the year. As many state college do, UNC will use some of the additional revenue for financial aid, and Institutional financial aid for undergrads will also increase by $4.5 million. About 85 percent of UNC undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. Room and board rates will rise by 3 percent, and fees by 2 percent. More information

The trustees also had a discussion of Metro State’s recent decision to create a special class of tuition for undocumented students (see story). “The consensus was to continue keeping an eye on it,” said UNC spokesman Nate Haas.

Citizens for Jeffco Schools, the group supporting the proposed tax overrides and bond issue, wasted no time in launching its campaign Friday. The district school board acted the night before to put the measures on the November ballot. Watch video of the launch event here.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday signed the last bills from the 2012 legislature, including two education measures. One allows resident tuition for military dependents and the other requires parent consent for students to fill out school surveys. The governor didn’t veto any education bills this year. Refresh your memory about legislative action on education with our Education Bill Tracker.

What’s on tap:

WEDNESDAY

The State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education meets starting at 8:30 a.m. at the system offices, 9101 East Lowry Blvd. Agenda

The State Board of Education meets starting at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 201 E. Colfax Ave. Up for consideration are several innovation schools applications from the Falcon school district. Agenda

THURSDAY

The Denver board will hold a special public comment meeting at 5 p.m. at district headquarters.

The Jefferson County board has a special meeting scheduled. Time not yet announced.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Tough love: Tennessee plans to convert 10 failing Nashville schools into charter schools that will serve about 5,000 students by 2020. The switchover is being overseen by the Tennessee Achievement School District, created as part of Tennessee’s response to the federal Race to the Top initiative, which authorizes charter schools and also directly runs low-performing schools. The Tennessean has the story.

What postsecondary means: There’s a lot of chatter these days about just what “postsecondary” means. Critics say reformers are just trying to push every kid into a four-year college. But what kids do after high school is more nuanced than that, and certificates are the fastest-growing form of postsecondary credentials in the nation, surpassing associate and master’s degrees as the second most common award in higher education after the B.A. The Chronicle of Higher Education has the details on a new study.

The EdNews’ Churn is a roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education, published during the summer as news warrants. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at [email protected]

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.