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Rise & Shine: Hick urges caution on testing cuts

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 10:07

Jeffco strikes first

The Jefferson County school board didn’t wait long to seek a waiver from a portion of the state’s new standardized assessments after the State Board of Education cracked open the door on that option last week. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Warning from the gov

Gov. John Hickenlooper urged lawmakers to be cautious about trimming the state testing system in his 2015 state of the state speech Thursday. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Second thoughts

A group of legislative Republicans Thursday introduced a bill that would roll back many of the education reforms passed by the legislature over the last six years. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Spend, spend, spend

The DPS board has approved new spending plans targeting technology, buildings, and other improvements. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Musical chairs

Denver Public Schools, running out of space to house new programs as enrollment surges, is playing policy catch-up to clarify which programs merit space in district buildings. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Counting kids

Colorado public school enrollment grew 1.4 percent in 2014 to 889,006 students, the Department of Education has reported. ( Chalkbeat Colorado, Denver Post )

Data privacy

President Obama's proposals for protecting privacy of student data are drawing attention from Coloradans, including Congressman Jared Polis. ( Denver Post )

guns in schools

Frontier Academy, a Greeley charter school, is considering arming some non-teaching staff members. ( Greeley Tribune via Denver Post )

Growing pains

Increasing enrollment has put a strain on some schools in the Pikes Peak region. ( Gazette )

Categories: Urban School News

School board, on split vote, directs Jeffco to seek waiver from state tests

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 00:26

GOLDEN — Jeffco Public Schools’ board didn’t wait long to seek a waiver from a portion of the state’s new standardized assessments after the State Board of Education cracked open the door on that option last week.

The suburban school board voted 3-1 Thursday night to direct Superintendent Dan McMinimee to seek a waiver from the Colorado Department of Education, knowing that the waiver might not be legal.

Board member Lesley Dahlkemper voted against the resolution, despite agreeing with the conservative majority that the district needs to address over-testing. Board member Jill Fellman abstained from the vote because she believed the resolution violated a board policy and such a request could be illegal.

The Jeffco vote comes a little more than a week after the State Board of Education voted to allow school districts to apply for waivers from a portion of the state’s standardized assessment system in math and English, known as PARCC.

Prior to the state board’s resolution, the Montrose and Colorado Springs District 11 school districts applied for testing waivers. But the Colorado Department of Education rejected those applications, saying the department didn’t have the legal authority to grant them.

Colorado Education Commissioner Robert Hammond said last week his department won’t honor any new waiver applications until the Colorado attorney general issues an opinion on the matter. A top deputy from the attorney general’s office told the state Senate Education Committee Thursday that waivers from the English and math tests weren’t legal. But his assertion carried no legal weight.

“This is premature at best,” Dahlkemper said of the waiver request.

The legal ambiguity didn’t seem to bother the board majority. Board attorney Brad Miller assured the board they faced no legal repercussions for seeking a waiver.

“We need to take the step now,” said board chairman Ken Witt. “We don’t need to wait for the attorney general’s office to drag their feet.”

The Jeffco vote has been months in the making. The board has had several conversations about the PARCC exams and the Common Core standards to which the tests are aligned. While board member Julie Williams has pushed this issue for months, debate never turned into action, mostly because Witt recognized the district’s legal obligation to test students.

Most of  Thursday’s debate regarding the resolution didn’t center around the merits of the PARCC test, but whether the board followed its own policies.

“Are you or are you not in favor of opting out of PARCC?” board member John Newkirk asked.

“We’re in favor of following board policies,” Dahlkemper replied.

Jeffco’s PARCC waiver resolution DV.load('http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1503340-jeffcoresolution.js', { width: 620, height: 600, sidebar: false, text: true, pdf: true, container: '#DV-viewer-1503340-jeffcoresolution' });

Update: This article has been updated to provide context why board member Jill Fellman abstained from voting on the testing waiver. 

Categories: Urban School News

DPS approves additional bond spending on technology, buildings

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 23:26

Denver Public Schools will spend $35.7 million from a pot of reserve bond funds on a slate of building and technology improvements around the city, the school board decided Thursday night.

The projects range from replacing stage curtains at Bromwell Elementary School in the Cherry Creek neighborhood to supporting a school for disabled students to a $25-per-pupil investment in new computers and other electronic devices for students. The district is pulling from $46 million in reserves from a $466 million bond issue approved by voters in 2012.

DPS officials said that current bond projects have come in either at or under budget, which allowed the district to fund additional improvements.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg said the district plans to ask voters to approve another bond issue for school improvements in 2016.

“We are the fastest-growing city district in the country,” Boasberg said. “The demand for improvements vastly outstrips the supply.”

Board members commended the district’s plan to make improvements in all parts of the city.

“We heard through this process about leaky roofs and old buildings…and we know those are directly related to equity and putting kids first,” said board member Landri Taylor.

Check out our board tracker for a rundown of how board members voted on each item on tonight’s agenda.

A slightly adjusted budget for the current fiscal year also passed on a unanimous vote. That budget includes an increase in $1 million for compensation from the district’s ProComp fund, and a slight increase in spending on materials.

The board also approved tonight a list of the first members of the DPS District Accountability Committee, or DAC. 

The committee replaces the School Improvement Accountability Committee, or SIAC, that previously made recommendations to the board on policy decisions involving school authorization, among other responsibilities.

The district had not been in compliance with a state regulation detailing requirements for how accountability committees are created.

During the meeting’s public comment session, several parents spoke against the district’s plan to replace a dual language program at CMS Community School with a Transitional Native Language Instruction, or TNLI, program. That plan would leave the southwest part of the city with no dual language options.

All of the items on tonight’s agenda passed unanimously.

Categories: Urban School News

Republican bill would roll back six years of ed reforms

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 22:44

A group of Republicans legislators introduced a bill Thursday that would roll back many of the education reforms passed by the legislature over the last six years.

Those reforms were backed by a Democratic-Republican coalition that no longer exists, given that many of those Republicans have left the legislature.

The bill has little chance of passage in its original form, given Democratic control of the House and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s support of past reforms. But House Bill 15-1105 likely will help shape the legislative debate over academic standards, testing, student data privacy, and teacher evaluation.

The bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton and Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins. Its key provisions include:

  • Repeal of current state academic standards in language arts, math and social studies.
  • Creation of new Colorado-only tests in those subjects. The bill specifies that new test questions “cannot be designed to collect or measure data, including metadata, concerning students’ noncognitive, behavioral, emotional, or psychological characteristics, attributes, or skills and that the vendor cannot collect biometric data, except handwriting.”
  • Development of a new standards by an advisory committee.
  • Withdrawal from the multi-state PARCC testing group.
  • Repeal of the requirement that all high school juniors take the ACT test.
  • Grading of tests by Colorado teachers.
  • A requirement that school boards adopt policies allowing parents to opt children out of tests and allowing students to take tests on paper if requested.
  • A change in the teacher evaluation system that would affect the current requirement that 50 percent of evaluations be based on student academic growth. That would be reduced to 15 percent, although individual districts could use up to 50 percent if they choose.
  • A ban on any agreements with vendors or the federal government that would cede state control over assessments and standards.

Everett and Marble have signed on 13 Republican cosponsors in the House and Senate. Interestingly, none of the senior Republican lawmakers on education issues have signed onto the bill, including Sens. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs and Chris Holbert of Parker, or Reps. Jim Wilson of Salida and Kevin Priola of Henderson.

A group of Republicans also introduced a bill Thursday on student data privacy. Prime sponsors of House Bill 15-1108 are Rep. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, and Sen. Laura Woods, R-Arvada. They have a dozen other GOP cosponsors in the House, but neither Priola nor Wilson are among them.

A key feature of the bill is a requirement that “prior to conducting any survey, assessment, analysis, or evaluation that would include the collection of specified personal information, a school or school district shall obtain the written consent of a minimum of 85 percent of the students’ parents or legal guardians.”

Holbert is working on a separate data bill that’s being developed from discussions between both parent activist groups and school district interests.

Two other education-related bills were introduced Thursday:

House Bill 15-1104 – The bill creates a state educator expense deduction on state income taxes. Prime sponsor: Rep. Clarice Navarro, R-Pueblo

House Bill 15-1116 – A technical bill repealing requirements that school boards adopt policies on annual school inspections. Prime sponsor: Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio

Categories: Urban School News

Hick: Be careful with testing cuts

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 20:56

In his 2015 state of the state speech Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper urged lawmakers to be cautious about trimming the state testing system.

“Easing the testing demands on 12th graders in social studies and science; and streamlining tests in early years and finding flexibility with approaches to social studies might be among the right answers,” he said.

“There is no doubt, however, that maintaining consistent assessments in English and math through high school is fundamental.”

He led up to those comments by saying, “We need to confront the truth about whether Colorado’s kids are getting the education they need to compete and succeed in the job market.

“But how do we know if we are getting the job done unless we accurately measure individual student growth?”

Parent activist groups and some legislators are pushing for more drastic reductions in high school testing, including elimination of 9th and 11th grade tests and even junking all current high school tests in favor of a single college entrance exam like the ACT.

Learn more

The governor spoke for about 45 minutes in the House chamber, which was packed with lawmakers, other state officials, legislative staff, and visitors. The governor’s acknowledgements and introductions alone consumed seven minutes; he spoke about education for about eight minutes.

Here are the highlights of what he said on other K-12 issues:

  • While touting a proposed $480 million overall education funding increase, he warned, “As we look beyond this year, the ability of the State General Fund to protect the negative factor from rising even higher is uncertain.”
  • “Colorado must also become the best state in the country to recruit, retain and grow great teachers. Licensure reforms, career ladders and a fair evaluation system are critical.” (Most observers doubt there will be significant legislation on this areas this year.)
  • “Our goal should be to ensure that every Colorado child has equal access to a great education. That means taking a hard look at funding equity, strategies to turn around struggling schools, promoting innovation, and supporting charter schools.”

Turning to higher education, Hickenlooper said:

  • “Chief among our priorities is reducing the cost of higher education for students and their families. Our Colorado Commission on Higher Education has set a goal that 66 percent of 25-34 year olds hold a post-high school credential by 2025. But that’s a long way away, and we should target 55 percent by 2020.”
  • Noting that he has requested a $107 million higher education funding increase, he urged “a cap in the undergraduate tuition growth at no more than 6 percent.” (Such legislation already has been introduced.)
  • And he sounded a gloomy note about future higher education, as he did with K-12: “We are doing what we can as a state to educate and graduate a homegrown workforce. But, we know that its not enough, and our ability to continue funding higher ed at this level may not last much longer. We must continue to identify and develop creative solutions.”

Part of the squeeze on education funding is caused by conflicting constitutional provisions, including the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

The last panel in Allen True Capitol water murals looks to the future, at least as envisioned in 1940.

Hickenlooper closed his speech on that issue, calling it a “fiscal thicket.” He noted the seriousness of the problem but offered no suggested solutions other than a more intense public focus on the problem.

“We are facing the mathematical and inevitable conclusion of a system of tax and spending rules that evolved over decades. … If we do nothing, if we pretend the future will take care of itself, and we’re back here in two years facing what was clearly an avoidable crisis, history will show that we failed future generations of Coloradans. … While we will continue to strategically prune, our state budget can only endure so much cutting,” he said.

Citing a recent series of talks and negotiations that led to a draft state water plan, Hickenlooper said, “We should be coming together, dealing with the facts of what we know, and take a hard look at what is the most strategic way to allocate our resources; and ask ourselves: What will be of maximum benefit for all Coloradans?”

A recurring theme in Hickenlooper’s speech was the series of murals in the Capitol rotunda that illustrate Colorado’s development. “We can paint our own panel for the mural, one that will benefit generations of Coloradans to come.”

Categories: Urban School News

State P-12 enrollment moves up at usual rate

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 18:41

Colorado public school enrollment grew 1.4 percent in 2014 to 889,006 students, the Department of Education reported Thursday.

The percentage growth was slightly below both 2013’s 1.6 percent and the 20-year average rate of 1.7 percent. The number includes students enrolled in preschool through 12th grade.

The new figure is based on enrollment counts conducted statewide in a window around last Oct. 1 and will be the official number for the current 2014-15 school year. Despite recurring discussions about changing the state student counting method, the single Oct. 1 count remains the way Colorado calculates enrollment.

The annual counts are closely watched because enrollment is a key factor in district funding.

The state added 12,007 students from 2013 to last fall, a number equivalent to the size of the Westminster district. (See this CDE chart for enrollment by district, listed from highest to lowest.) Nearly half that growth, 5,564, came in districts classified as urban or suburban.

Denver Public Schools, with 88,839 students, remains the largest district. DPS grew by 2,796 students, a 3.3 percent gain. Only the state Charter School Institute had a larger gain, 3,573 students. (That was because the institute added schools.)

The other largest districts are a familiar list – Jefferson County (86,547), Douglas County (66,702), Cherry Creek (54,499), Aurora (41,729) and Adams 12-Five Star (38,701).

Some 83 districts lost enrollment, by a total of 6,115 students. Adams 12 lost 3,529 students (8.3 percent) because the Colorado Virtual Academy switched to the Byers district as its authorizer. Enrollment in a handful of districts fluctuates every year because of such charter school moves.

Here are some other key statistics from the latest enrollment report. The 2013 figures are in parentheses.

  • At-risk students – 41.6 percent of state enrollment (41.9 percent)
  • White students – 54.5 percent (55 percent)
  • Hispanic students – 33.1 percent (32.8 percent)
  • Black students – 4.7 percent (4.7 percent)

The enrollment count also reported 126,840 students classified as English language learners for 2014-15 and 89,602 special education students. The comparable figures for 2013-14 were 126,750 and 88,190.

Enrollment in online schools increased to 17,060 students compared to 16,215 in 2013-14.

The department slices and dices enrollment data in a wide variety of ways and breaks it down by district, school and grade. See this CDE page for links to all the new enrollment reports.

Categories: Urban School News

Colorado’s second largest school district may seek PARCC waiver — if legal

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 18:32

The Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education tonight may ask its superintendent to seek a waiver from the state allowing the district not to administer portions of Colorado’s new standardized testing system.

But whether Jeffco, the state’s second largest school district, can even ask for such a waiver remains open to question.

The board’s debate on a resolution about seeking a waiver will come a little more than a week after the State Board of Education, in a split vote, told the state’s education commissioner to accept waiver applications from school districts.

Commissioner Robert Hammond told the state board earlier this month that he doubted the legality of such waivers and has asked the state’s attorney general’s office for an opinion on the matter.

While the attorney general’s office has not issued an official opinion, a top staffer for the attorney general told the State Senate Education Committee today that such waivers could not be granted.

“The State Board of Education does not have the authority to grant a waiver,” said David Blake, chief deputy attorney general. “The General Assembly has limited the board’s authority to grant a waiver” by laws passed previously. “The black letter of the law is clear.”

The Colorado Department of Education previously rejected two testing waivers on the same legal grounds — that the department didn’t have the legal authority to grant them. Those districts were Montrose and Colorado Springs District 11.

The resolution the Jeffco board will debate tonight acknowledges the legal uncertainty. If the forthcoming decision from the attorney general’s office prohibits districts from applying for waivers, Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee will need to come up with a plan for administering the online-based exams known as PARCC.

Hammond told Chalkbeat he expects about a dozen districts to apply for waivers.

Tonight’s Jeffco debate and vote will be the board’s first attempt to tackle directly the highly political issues of testing. While conservative board member Julie Williams has pushed the issue before, the board hasn’t yet taken any sort of action on testing. That’s because board chairman Ken Witt has previously stopped debate on the topic, citing legal requirements to test. The state board’s vote last week may change that.

The waivers, if found to be legal, would allow school districts to skip the first part of PARCC test scheduled to be administered between March and April. Those school districts with a waiver would still be required to give the end-of-year portion of the PARCC exam in May.

States including Colorado that make up the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, the organization that is designing and implementing the new standardized exams, decided to split the tests into two parts.

Colorado education officials stress the two parts make up one complete assessment.

“Failure to take a portion of the test would not give a full picture of students’ mastery of the standards, and the score would not be valid,” said Dana Smith, a spokeswoman for CDE. “It’s really no different than previous tests – TCAP and CSAP – which were also broken down into sections of about an hour or so. If students don’t take the whole test, their scores will be incomplete.”

It’s unclear what sort of consequences a waiver from the tests would have for the state’s school accountability and teacher effectiveness systems, which are dependent upon the results of both parts of the assessments.

The first part the PARCC test is designed to asses a student’s critical-thinking skills. During the English tests, for example, students read multiple passages and then write what they’ve learned. In the math portion, students are asked to solve multi-step problems that require reasoning.

The second part of the exam, to be administered near the end of the school year, gauges comprehension of both literary and mathematical concepts.

Both sections of the exam will be used to determine a student’s proficiency in English and math. The state will also use that data in teacher evaluations and school ratings.

The discussion by the Jeffco school board to seek a waiver is the most recent development in an ongoing debate about testing in Colorado and across the nation.

Last year, the Douglas County School District’s Board of Education pitched a bill to the Colorado General Assembly that would have allowed some school districts to completely opt out of the state’s entire testing system — if they could prove they were academically successful. But that bill was watered down to instead create a committee to review the state’s testing system. The panel wrapped up the majority of its work earlier this week.

As computer-based exams were rolled out for the first time last spring, education officials across the state raised concerns about how much time is devoted to testing and the drain it takes on physical resources like computer labs.

And this fall, seniors at mostly suburban and affluent schools ditched their required tests in science and social studies claiming the results meant nothing to their future college or career ambitions.

And as Congress takes up the issue of the nation’s education laws, how much testing is required by the federal government will be a cornerstone issue. Under current law, schools across the nation are required to test all students in English and math in grades three through eight and once in high school. They’re also required to test one grade in elementary, middle, and high school in science.

A bill just introduced by Democratic lawmakers at the Colorado statehouse would roll back the state’s testing system to the so-called federal minimum.

Categories: Urban School News

Denver Public Schools ‘ahead of the curve’ with proposed facilities policy

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 17:52

Denver Public Schools, running out of space to house new programs as its student population surges, is playing policy catch-up to clarify which programs merit space in district buildings.

The proposed facilities policy, which applies to both charter and district schools, would tie placement decisions to schools’ academic performance, student enrollment patterns, and other district priorities. “It’s about transparency,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg.

The policy is unusual, said Paul Hill, the founder of the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, which focuses on school choice and urban education systems. While other districts may informally base decisions about building use on schools’ performance or other priorities, he said, “[DPS] is ahead of the curve in making it explicit.”

Currently, no clear rules dictate which schools have access to buildings and why. As more programs vie for fewer spaces, the need for a clear policy has become increasingly urgent, district officials said.

“We’re starting from scratch,” said DPS board member Barbara O’Brien. “Before, there was free or available space all over town. Now we’re finding we have to be much more intentional. It’s not easy to find a place for everyone.”

The board plans to vote on a revised version of the policy during its meeting in February. At a meeting on Monday, board members were still recommending tweaks to the policy document. The current draft names factors ranging from a school’s ability to foster socioeconomic integration to its track record operating other schools as criteria in placement decisions.

Pressing needs

DPS has opened 59 school programs since 2008 and plans to open more than two dozen more. Student enrollment in the district has increased by close to 25 percent in the past decade, from 72,000 in 2004 to close to 89,000 this year.

That rapid growth is a dramatic shift. In 2007, after years of stagnant enrollment, then-superintendent Michael Bennet led an effort to close eight schools that had space for many more students than they actually served. Six school buildings remained closed in 2011.

The district now has just one empty school building, the former Rosedale Elementary School in south Denver.

Boasberg said the district plans to request additional funds for buildings from taxpayers in 2016.

But in the meantime, the increasing premium on space as the district pushes to bring in new school programs has at time caused conflict between district leaders and communities.

Nora Flood, president of the Colorado League of Charter Schools, said her organization has heard concerns from charter school leaders that favoritism has played a role in some decisions about which schools are placed where. Co-location plans aimed at making use of empty classrooms and a slew of temporary placements have also proved contentious.

Not all of the flare-ups over space have involved charter schools, especially as the district has begun creating its own new school programs that sometimes start without having permanent homes.

The district’s plans to place the Denver Montessori Junior/Senior High School, a district school, in the former Smedley Elementary building, for instance, drew the ire of local community members who wanted a neighborhood elementary school in its place.

“As buildings have become more scarce, absolutely they’ve got to have some kind of policy that’s transparent and objective,” Flood said.

Such a policy, and especially its openness to both charters and non-charters, would be unique in the state, Flood said. Denver is already more inclusive of charter schools in its facility planning than most districts. For instance, while the nonprofits that run charter schools are expected to pay rent for public buildings in some districts—a major cost—that’s not the case in DPS. “Denver is really one of the only districts in the state that shares facilities with charters at all,” she said.

Reiterating priorities

The proposed facilities policy says decisions about placing schools should be based on schools’ quality, mostly as reflected in the district’s school performance framework; schools’ ability to meet the district’s “priority needs,” which might include offering specialized programs or the ability to replace a low-performing program; and enrollment demand in certain areas in the city.

The draft also says schools may be obligated to meet certain requirements, such as offering programs for English learners.

Those guidelines largely line up with the priorities the district laid out in the “Call for New Quality Schools” released in December, which describes where the district is interested in placing new charter or district-run schools.

District officials said the draft policy is based on the set of criteria they had used internally to decide how to place schools in buildings. “There’s no change here in what we’ve been doing. But it’s an effort to put in one document, in a real coherent form, exactly how these choices are made,” Boasberg said.

Still unfinished

The policy was initially scheduled for a vote this week. But at the board’s work session on Monday, board member Arturo Jimenez suggested some tweaks. He said the district should emphasize, for instance, that board members must be informed of plans for buildings in a timely manner.

He also cautioned that the policy might be read as favoring charter schools with already-existing programs over new district-run programs, given its emphasis on previous academic performance.

Charter school leaders commended the explicit focus on academics and diversity. “To have DPS leadership formally link academic performance to facility allocation is a great step for Denver kids,” said James Cryan, the founder of Rocky Mountain Prep, a Denver charter school. “Facilities are often the largest barrier to growth for high-performing public schools.”

“We want to be creating integrated schools. Denver is a diverse city, and we want to be careful that our schools reflect that,” said Bill Kurtz, the founder of the DSST network of charter schools. “It’s a great opportunity to say explicitly, these are the things we value in our schools and these are the places we want to invest.”

Kurtz said he wondered how changes to state testing policy might affect the measures the district used to place schools.

Van Schoales, the director of A Plus Denver, an advocacy organization focused on schools in the district, said that it would be helpful to have a rubric along with the policy so stakeholders could see exactly which factors influenced each decision.

And Thomas Carr, the parent of a student at the Denver Montessori Junior/Senior High School, said he thought that the policy looked thoughtful and comprehensive. But, he said, he was concerned that it represented yet another instance of test scores holding the most sway in decisions about education.

“With the performance framework listed as criterion number one, I worry that the well-funded schools and/or schools with teaching philosophies that teach to the test will get preference in the process,” he said.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: The gap between Colorado school funding and other states is growing

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 10:07

Testing

Two bills to reduce testing in Colorado were introduced by Senate Democrats. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Distance Matters

The factors that drive school choice aren't quite what policymakers think they should be, according to a new report from New Orleans. ( KUNC )

Denver Public Schools

Denver's school board tonight will vote on $35 million in projects using bond funds. ( Denver Post )

Growing Gaps

Colorado schools receive even less money per pupil compared to other states than they did in 2011-21. ( CPR )

mental health

School districts participated in a conversation about suicide prevention in Colorado. ( 9 News )

Awards

Michele Dubois, a teacher at Columbine Elementary in Boulder, is the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented's Outstanding Educator of 2014. ( Daily Camera )

Come and Go

A team recommended that the Colorado Springs school district not renew the charter of STAR Academy. ( Gazette )

What Comes Next?

North Carolina is reviewing its commitment to the Common Core State Standards. ( KUNC )

Lockdown

A gun was reported on the campus of two Denver high schools. ( Denver Post )

Categories: Urban School News

Take 5: Education assemblies, middle grades to college, Duncan's pro-testing stance

Catalyst Chicago - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 09:11

A diverse group of parents, students, teachers and educational activists came together on Wednesday evening to plan what they are calling "education assemblies." Details are still being worked out, but the idea is to hold two assemblies a year and use a democratic process to develop a progressive education platform. Smaller groups would push the agenda between assemblies. They hope to have the first assembly in late spring.

Anton Miglietta, who is co-director of the Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Task Force, told the group of about 75 people at Wells High School that other progressive movements, such as the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico, used the same process to determine an agenda and advocate for it. Mayoral candidates Bob Fioretti and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia came to the planning meeting for a short time. Other familiar faces were Raise Your Hands’ Wendy Katten, More than a Score’s Cassie Caswell and Ross Floyd, a Jones College Prep student who helped launch the Chicago Students Union. Along with Miglietta, Morrill Principal Michael Beyer and University of Illinois Professor David Stovall are organizers.

Most of the ideas that they talked about were not new. For example, they discussed an elected school board with a voting student, eliminating high stakes testing and no new charter schools.

2. Texting to the rescue… Chicago will launch a 311 texting service this fall sending tips and information to the city’s parents, according to a recent press release from the mayor’s office. The service, called “Connect4Tots,” will give advice to parents on issues from immunization and nutrition to literacy and social services. The city will collaborate with child advocacy group EverThrive Illinois to roll out the service. Connect4Tots will “provide a central place for Chicago parents to receive maternal and child health as well as early childhood education information, in a quick, easy to use, and free manner,” said Janine Lewis, executive director of EverThrive. The messages will come from experts at public institutions  like the Chicago Department of Public Health as well as private groups like Ounce of Prevention and Everthrive.

The service will be modeled on Text4Baby, a nationwide texting network launched in 2010 that now reaches more than 500,000 pregnant women and new mothers with maternity tips.  Services like Text4Baby have been gaining popularity in recent years, and they’re backed by some pretty substantial research. The National Bureau of Economic Research released a study last year that found a similar texting service gave a substantial boost to the literacy scores of the children whose families it reached. Also owing to the success of texting services is their extremely low cost: According to the New York Times, they typically cost less than $1 per child, where home visiting programs can run up to $10,000 per household.

3. Hard transitions… Following up on an earlier report, the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research  published two briefs last week examining indicators of college readiness in middle school and high school. Among the findings: Middle school attendance is critical to determining whether students are on-track to graduate in high school. Small variations in eighth-grade attendance, the middle school report found, lead to drastic differences in high school on-track records. Students with 96 percent attendance had a 77 percent likelihood of being on track for college by ninth grade, for example, but when attendance drops to 90 percent, that likelihood falls to 44 percent.

Another major takeaway from the study is that the transition from middle school to high school takes a toll on nearly all students: Across the board, attendance drops significantly between those two years. What’s more, the majority of off-track high school students had shown few signs of struggling before they arrived in high school. According to the most recent numbers, 79 percent of high schoolers at-risk of being off-track boasted attendance rates of at least 95 percent in middle school.

4. Ogden anti-Semitic bullying … The bullying of a Jewish student at Ogden Elementary school is in the top 10 of the worst anti-Semitic incidents in the Midwest last year, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish watchdog group. The Chicago Tribune article on the situation said that a group of boys told the student that “he should wear striped pajamas” and that he could be put into an oven. The school talked to the boys and suspended them for a day.

However, the student’s mother told the Tribune that she didn’t think it was enough of a punishment for tormenting her son for an extended period of time. The school also held parent forums on anti-semitism. The Wiesenthal group notes that CPS did not take a strong stand against until the mother went to the media.

5. Duncan wants testing… U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wants to replace No Child Left Behind, but keep its hallmark policy: yearly, mandatory high-stakes testing. In an unveiling of the White House’s 2015 education agenda, Duncan gave an urgent defense of standardized testing, saying “parents and teachers and students have both the right and the absolute need to know how much progress all students are making each year toward college and career readiness.” Instead, he harped on NCLB’s punitive treatment of underperforming schools, saying the 2002 law’s replacement should “recognize that schools need more support, more money, more resources than they have today.” The announcement rattled Republican lawmakers as well as teachers unions, who by and large warn that yearly high-stakes testing put too much pressure on students and stifle school curriculums.

Duncan also called for a $2.7 billion increase in federal spending on education, including a $1 billion boost in Title I funding, which is directed at the country’s poorest students. The federal government currently spends about $79 billion annually on education, including $14.4 billion for Title I programs. Duncan said he hopes to join a bipartisan effort to reform national education law, but it’s unlikely a Republican-controlled Congress, with an eye toward scaling back federal intervention, will approve the spending boost. At the same time, Republican efforts to gut yearly standardized testing--beginning with a familiar plan recently proposed by a former GOP education secretary--are likely to die at President Obama’s desk.  






Categories: Urban School News

Pair of testing reduction bills pop up in Senate

EdNewsColorado - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 19:52

The first testing bills of 2015 have been introduced in the Senate, one that would make extensive trims to the current assessment system and the second of which would cut back social studies testing.

Senate Bill 15-073, sponsored by Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, would require the state to cut testing to the so-called federal minimums and to ask federal authorities for a waiver that would allow use of the ACT test as the only assessment in high school. While such a request was pending, the ACT test would temporarily be eliminated.

Senate Bill 15-056 is a repeat of Sen. Andy Kerr’s unsuccessful attempt to trim social studies from the closing days of the 2014 session.

The two were among a flurry of education bills introduced this week, including an extensive “parent’s bill of rights” proposed by Republicans, a Democratic bill to cap student loan interest rates, a proposal to change admissions policies at Metropolitan State University, and a plan to boost compensation of community college faculty.

The Merrifield and Kerr bills are the first of what are expected to be several proposed measures on assessments. Republicans are likely to weigh in on the issue and also propose pulling Colorado out of the Common Core State Standards. It’s widely assumed the legislature will take some action on testing but most likely through a compromise, bipartisan bill.

Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs / File photo

The Merrifield proposal to reduce testing to federal minimum requirements likely would eliminate science and social studies testing in the 12th grade, although the federal government does require a science test sometime during high school. It also would eliminate language arts and math tests in the 9th and 12th grades, tests Colorado gives now but that aren’t required under federal law.

Social studies tests, including those in lower grades, also are a Colorado-only policy. (See this Chalkbeat Colorado story for background on the implications of such testing cuts.)

The bill suggests temporarily eliminating the ACT test, now given to all 11th graders, but also would require the state to ask the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver that would allow the ACT to be the only test given to Colorado high school students. (The state currently gives language arts and math tests in 10th grade.)

Merrifield’s bill would retain the school readiness and READ Act assessments and evaluations used in grades K-3 but reduce the frequency in some cases.

“It’s a work in progress,” Merrifield said of his bill. “I’m willing to listen to other ideas, [but] I think the bill as drafted now is a huge step.” He added he’s “optimistic” the legislature will be able “to make some advances” on testing.

Senate Bill 15-056, the social studies measure introduced by Kerr, a Lakewood Democrat, would allow the state to give the new social studies tests only once every three years in every school. Only “a representative sample” of schools would administer the tests in any given year. Currently the tests are given to all 4th, 7th and 12th graders. Rollout of the tests last fall sparked boycotts by high school seniors in some districts.

The last-minute 2014 bill on social studies was killed in the House Education Committee. Kerr commented recently that passing the bill then would have saved some disruption last fall. The high school scores haven’t been compiled, but the 4th and 7th grade scores from tests last spring showed room for improvement (see story).

Lawmakers awaiting testing recommendations

Republican Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs, chair of the Senate Education Committee, has promised that he won’t hold hearings on testing bills until after the advisory Standards and Assessments Task Force presents its recommendations to lawmakers on Jan. 28.

Durango Superintendent Dan Snowberger, who chaired the task force, briefed the House and Senate education committees on the group’s work Wednesday but, by pre-arrangement with Hill, didn’t discuss recommendations. (The group’s direction, based on its last meeting Monday, is fairly clear. See this story.)

Snowberger did say the diverse group generally agreed that “It does seem like we’ve reached the point where it feels like we’re over-assessing.”

Two Republican lawmakers used the occasion to ask about SchoolVault, an electronic tool developed by the Durango district to help teachers track student progress on locally designed classroom tests. Some testing critics have intimated that Snowberger somehow has a conflict of interest because of his involvement with School Vault and chairing the task force.

When Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton, tried to press the issue, Hill cut him off, saying, “Save that for a personal conversation afterwards.”

Fresh bills cover wide range of issues

Other new education bills introduced as of Wednesday include:

Get texts, bill details in the Education Bill Tracker

Senate Bill 15-068 -Caps the annual interest rate that a private lender may charge for a student loan to 2 percentage points above the rate charged by the federal government. The bill also makes student loan payments deductible on state income taxes. The measure has been assigned to Senate State Affairs, usually considered the kill committee. Prime sponsors: Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville; Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.

Senate Bill 15-070 – Would eliminate state licensing of childcare centers that serve fewer then 10 children. The current cutoff is five children, although centers with five-10 children can apply for an exemption. Prime sponsors: Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud; Rep. Janek Joshi, R-Colorado Springs.

Senate Bill 15-072 – Reclassifies Metro State as a “moderately selective” institution. Metro currently is classified as “modified open admission,” which means students aged 20 or older only need a high school diploma or GED for admission. Metro officials didn’t request the change and say they are studying the bill. Prime sponsors: Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs’ Rep. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument.

Senate Bill 15-077 – Creates a comprehensive “parent’s bill of rights” covering disclosure and parent consent on such matters as school records, health care decisions, making audio or video recordings of children, curriculum, sex education and other matters. It contains various opt-out provisions but doesn’t appear to include a testing opt-out. Other bill provisions cover medical issues. The bill was assigned to Senate Education. Prime sponsors: Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton; Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock. (The two new legislators are father and son, respectively, and are among the legislature’s more conservative members.)

Senate Bill 15-080 – Expands participation in the defined contribution pension program offered by the Public Employees’ Retirement Association, most of whose members are in the defined benefit plan. Prime sponsor: Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs.

Senate Bill 15-094 – Represents this year’s attempt to improve pay and benefits for part-time community college faculty. Prior efforts have failed because of the considerable cost involved. Assigned to State Affairs. Prime sponsors: Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Kefalas; Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Senators set stage for debate about federal education law

EdNewsColorado - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 08:41

No expansion?

Colorado's two-year-old "breakfast after the bell" program wouldn't be extended to more kids as originally envisioned, under a bill introduced Tuesday. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Still far apart

Democrats and Republicans took to the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday to present at times conflicting visions for a rewrite of the federal No Child Left Behind Law. ( The Washington Post )

Testing, testing, three, two, one

Boulder Valley educators are happy with proposed reductions in state testing, but say they don't go far enough. ( Boulder Daily Camera )

A few words

Governor John Hickenlooper and his lieutenant Joe Garcia were sworn in for second terms Tuesday, and each had a few words to say about education ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Tar Heel back-pedal?

North Carolina, one of the first states to adopt the Common Core State Standards, is apparently having second thoughts. ( NPR/KUNC )

Star power

Tom Hanks, an "underachieving student with lousy SAT scores" writes that he thrived in community college and hopes President Obama’s plan to expand free access to two-year schools will win support in Congress. ( New York Times )

Alabama embarrassment

Alabama leads the nation in one education statistic, but it's not one to brag about. School employees in Alabama were accused or convicted of sex crimes with students more frequently than in any other state on a per capita basis in 2014. ( AL.com )

Categories: Urban School News

New bill would change rules for “breakfast after the bell”

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 22:52

A bill introduced in the House Tuesday would change existing law governing the “breakfast after the bell” program and likely affect its expansion.

Passed by the 2013 legislature, the law requires that certain schools provide breakfast after the school day starts. The theory behind the law was that students do better in class if they’re not hungry, that some students skip breakfast if it’s offered before school, and that students will be more likely to eat if all others are eating, not just the “poor” kids.

School district lobbyists doggedly fought the bill, arguing that it unnecessarily restricted district flexibility in providing the morning meal and could in some cases impose costs on districts. As finally passed, the law applied to schools with 80 percent or more students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. The law lowers that threshold to 70 percent starting in the 2015-16 school year.

House Bill 15-1080 would cancel the switch to 70 percent and keep the threshold for the program at 80 percent low income students. The prime sponsors are Rep. Janak Joshi and Sen. Owen Hill, both Colorado Springs Republicans. If the bill survives in the House it may have legs, given that Republicans control the Senate and Hill is chair of the Senate Education Committee.

See this 2014 Chalkbeat Colorado story for details on how districts prepared for the breakfast after the bell requirement.

Two other education-related bill were introduced Tuesday. They are:

House Bill 15-1079 – Removes current restrictions on spending of general fund money on certain teen pregnancy and dropout prevention programs, and extends the repeal date of those programs from 2016 to 2020. Prime sponsors: Reps. Don Corum, R-Montrose and Jesse Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge; Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango

House Bill 15-1081 – Permits “a person” to restrict access to a sex-segregated locker room based on an individual’s actual, biological sex. The backstory here is conservative concern about which locker rooms transgender people can use. The measure has been assigned to House State Affairs, commonly known as the “kill committee.” Democrats have the House majority. Prime sponsor: Rep. Kim Ransom, R-Douglas County, with 10 House Republican cosponsors; no Senate sponsor

Use the Education Bill Tracker for links to bill texts, sponsor information, fiscal notes and much more detail about every 2015 education bill.

Categories: Urban School News

Hickenlooper briefly talks education at swearing in ceremony

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 18:15

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia were sworn in for their second terms on the Capitol’s west steps Tuesday morning, both touting the state’s economic recovery while stressing the importance of expanding those opportunities to all regions and people of the state.

Hickenlooper made two brief references to education in his 13-minute speech.

“We have been restoring funding to the state’s education budget,” Hickenlooper said. “We will continue to build … a Colorado where all of our children have access to a first-rate education regardless of zip code; where funding for higher education is transparent, fair and gets results.”

While the state is funding schools at a higher level than during the Great Recession, school superintendents are making the case they need more money. School funding is likely be a topic of ongoing debate during the legislative session.

Hickenlooper will make his annual state of the state speech to a joint session of the legislature on Thursday morning. That address will be longer and typically contains somewhat more detailed policy proposals, although education has not been a major theme of his last four state of the state speeches.

The administration’s primary education priorities have been improving early childhood education and services, full implementation of the education reforms enacted since 2008, and increasing the number of people with college degrees and professional certificates.

Read Hickenlooper’s inaugural text here. Garcia talked a bit more about education; read his prepared remarks here.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Duncan outlines his vision for education laws

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 09:58

That's a wrap — sort of

The state's testing committee met yesterday for the last time. They firmed up recommendations for cutbacks in some high school testing and for streamlining of assessments and evaluations in the earliest grades. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Among the recommendations the panel will make to the legislature: A paper-and-pencil option for all state tests starting in 2015-16, acknowledging complaints that computer labs are being turned over to testing. ( Denver Post )

NCLB 2.0

Education Secretary Arne Duncan laid out his vision for the next generation of federal education laws. ( Washington Post )

He also drew a line in the sand: every student needs to be tested, every year. ( NPR via KUNC )

Which brings us to our question of the week: What should Congress’ priorities be when it rewrites No Child Left Behind? ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

follow the leader

Hundreds of teacher leaders gathered in Denver during the weekend. Here's a roundup of their best tweets. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Two cents

The State Board of Education shouldn't move ahead with its plan to offer waivers from new online-based standardized tests to school districts. ( Denver Post )

False alarm

No weapons were found after police received a tip about a possible weapon at two Denver schools. ( 9News )

Setting limits

A bill that would indefinitely extend the current 6 percent cap on annual tuition increases at state colleges and universities was introduced by two Democratic lawmakers. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Very important Dates

The Poudre School District may push its school start dates back next year to mitigate the problem of hot August days in mostly non-air conditioned buildings. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

But the Boulder Valley School District is sticking with its current start date for at least two more years. ( Daily Camera )

Categories: Urban School News

New bill would extend college tuition increase cap indefinitely

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 21:44

A bill that would indefinitely extend the current 6 percent cap on annual tuition increases at state colleges and universities was introduced by two Democratic lawmakers Monday.

Responding to growing concern about rising tuition, the 2014 legislature set a 6 percent tuition hike ceiling. That new law ended a system under which college trustees had flexibility in setting tuition, subject to review by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

The new measure, Senate Bill 15-062, would create an exception for the Colorado School of Mines, which could increase tuition by 6 percent or twice the inflation rate, whichever is greater. And if state funding for higher education increased by less than the rate of inflation in a given year, any college could ask the commission for permission to increase undergraduate resident tuition rates by more than 6 percent.

The prime sponsors are Sen. Andy Kerr and Rep. Brittany Pettersen, both Lakewood Democrats.

Two other education bills were introduced Monday. They are:

House Bill 15-1076 – Prohibits requiring union membership or payment of dues as a condition of employment. This is a perennial GOP bill, and it would affect teachers unions. It was assigned to the State Affairs Committee, the “kill committee” in the Democratic-controlled House. Prime sponsors: Rep. Justin Everett; Sens. Tim Neville and Laura Woods. All are Jefferson County Republicans.

Senate Bill 15-063 – Broadens a 2007 program of grants to schools for alternative-energy projects. Prime sponsor: Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Edwards.

Categories: Urban School News

Testing task force remains divided on some issues as finish line nears

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 21:39

In its final meeting Monday, the state’s testing task force firmed up recommendations for cutbacks in some high school testing and for streamlining of assessments and evaluations in the earliest grades.

The group couldn’t reach agreement on what should be done with social studies tests and with 9th grade language arts and math tests. Nor were its members of one mind about how the state should help districts with the costs of technology needed for new online tests.

The task force isn’t recommending that the testing schedule be changed for this spring or that the legislature mandate changes in local testing.

As the meeting ended, chair Dan Snowberger said, “What this [the group’s work] has represented to me is the real complexity of this issue.” Given that, he added, he hopes “the legislature doesn’t see the limited change we can suggest … as a loss.” Snowberger is superintendent of the Durango schools.

“I feel like we’ve done as much as we can,” said task force member Syna Morgan, a Jeffco administrator.

The Standards and Assessments Task Force didn’t leave Monday’s session with final report language in place. Subgroups of the 15-member body will edit sections of the draft completed Monday, then each member will have the opportunity to comment on the whole document. The panel will review changes during a Jan. 23 conference call, with a Jan. 26 deadline for finishing the report.

Given the group’s propensity for word-smithing, it’s likely there will several changes in language.

Members of the group are scheduled to present their report to lawmakers on Jan. 28.

The task force is recommending that language arts and math tests continue in grades 3-8 and in grade 10. Junior-year tests in those subjects would be made optional, and 12th grade tests in social studies and science would be eliminated. The task force also is recommending streamlining some of the assessments and evaluations used to determine school readiness and reading ability in K-3 students. For instance, students who demonstrate grade-level reading wouldn’t have to be retested during the same school year.

The group will propose there be a one-year timeout in state ratings of schools to avoid schools or districts being penalized if significant numbers of students opt out of this spring’s tests. The panel also agreed that if a ratings timeout is approved, the state needs to provide clear, factual to districts and parents on what that means.

Despite apparent agreement during a Friday meeting, the group split Monday in a rare show-of-hands vote on whether 9th grade language arts and math tests should be eliminated. The report will reflect that division.

The group’s division over whether to continue 4th and 7th grade social studies tests or make them optional also will go into the report.

Late Monday morning, the group also seemed ready to split on other high school testing changes.

After a break for lunch, Snowberger said, “It does feel like we’re starting to revisit, we’re starting to backpedal.” The panel decided to leave the recommendations as they were.

Members also spent considerable time Friday and Monday morning discussing more extensive changes to testing, which might be possible if and when federal requirements change. The possibilities include adaptive assessments (tests that get harder or easier depending on a student’s answers), flexibility for districts to use their own tests, state tests that combine several subjects, and streamlining annual testing so that students wouldn’t take tests in multiple subjects each year.

But the group made no recommendations – “There are unresolved tensions in the group,” noted Bill Jaeger of the Colorado Children’s Campaign – and decided those issues are best left to some future study group.

In closing comments members complimented one another, but a couple were critical of the legislature for lack of diversity on the group. The panel, appointed by legislative leaders and the chair of the State Board of Education, had one Hispanic member and no African Americans. Tony Lewis of the Donnell-Kay Foundation called that “immoral if not unjust.”

Lewis and task force facilitator Laura Lefkowits also chided lawmakers for not providing any funding for the task force. (The only funding was for an outside study of testing impacts.)

Categories: Urban School News

What should stay, what should go in NCLB?

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 16:37

As Washington Republicans prepare to rewrite sweeping federal education legislation, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this morning laid out his own vision for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind.

Here’s how the Washington Post described it:

He talked broadly about equal educational opportunity as a civil right — and as a moral and economic imperative for the country — but he included a few specific ideas he wants incorporated in federal law. He said any new law must include a provision that states test every student annually in math and reading in grades 3 to 8 and once in high school.

“I believe parents, teachers and students have both the right and the need to know how much progress all students are making each year toward college and career readiness,” Duncan said. “That means all students need to take annual statewide assessments that are aligned with their teacher’s classroom instruction.”

Among his priorities: more flexibility for states, funding for preschool, $1 billion annually in federal aid for schools with the neediest students, and maintaining the federal mandate that states must test students annually in math and reading.

You can watch Duncan’s full speech here:

Duncan’s speech brings us to our question of the week: What should Congress’ priorities be when it rewrites No Child Left Behind? 

If you need a refresher on what No Child Left Behind does, check out this explainer Chalkbeat’s Maura Walz did when she was at the Southern Education Desk.

Each Monday, we ask readers a question about a timely or timeless question about their experiences in education. Readers who want to share their opinions should leave a response in the comment section below, tweet us @ChalkbeatCO, send an email, or leave a comment on our Facebook wall. Every Friday we round up the responses. Here’s last week’s.

Categories: Urban School News

Overheated districts trying later start dates

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 14:08

The Poudre School District may push its school start dates back next year to mitigate the problem of hot August days in mostly non-air conditioned buildings.

At its meeting Tuesday, the school board will consider a middle and elementary start date of August 24, a week later than this year, and a high school start date of August 20, two days later than this year. The board will also discuss a $200,000 study that would look at the cost and feasibility of installing air conditioning in all district buildings.

Poudre’s heat predicament came to a head in August 2013, when consecutive sweltering days caused complaints and canceled school. To address that problem, the district implemented two weeks of early release days for elementary and middle schools last August, but the temperatures were fairly mild during that period and some parents complained that the altered schedule made transportation and child care arrangements difficult.

Poudre isn’t the only district to address overheated classrooms and uncomfortable students during the first few weeks of school. Pueblo City Schools moved its start date to early September this school year to combat such problems. And in 2013, Denver Public Schools pushed its August start date back by a week, from mid- to late August (Most DPS schools started August 25 this year.)

Categories: Urban School News

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