Among New School Awards, Jeffco's Edgewater Elementary Stands Out

It’s Friday, time to stick to something a little lighter and perhaps more upbeat. This week the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) publicly celebrated its annual award winners.

While 27 districts, including Douglas County, earned recognition for topping the state’s accreditation system, today I particularly would like to bring attention to the school-level results from 2013-14 in three major categories:

  1. John Irwin Schools of Excellence Awards for exceeding expectations on the state’s academic achievement indicator
  2. Colorado Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Awards for schools that show high levels of student growth
  3. Colorado Centers of Excellence Awards for schools with at least 75% low-income student populations that “demonstrate the highest rates of student longitudinal growth”

Not to be too discouraged, but the first category of awards saw a 10% decline in the number of schools that qualified — down from 178 to 160 or so. There were about the same number of schools (roughly 130) qualifying for the Distinguished Improvement Awards.

But the third list, much more manageable in size, is worth somewhat of a closer look. Even more so than last year, 2014’s low-income “Centers for Excellence” are predominantly found in Denver — 16 out of 18, to be exact. A disproportionate number in DPS again are no-excuses charters of the KIPP, DSST, and STRIVE variety. Other interesting schools like the blended learning / innovation Grant Beacon Middle School also made the list.

There’s also a ray of hope across Sheridan Boulevard, in Jefferson County, though. Edgewater Elementary broke through with the “Centers of Excellence” honor this time around. Recently, I’ve pointed out that it would be good to see more of the Denver low-income charter success spill over into the needy part of Jeffco and noted the emerging community work of Success Pathways.

There is a long, long ways to go for the kids in the articulation area that culminates with low-performing Jefferson High School. Maybe, Edgewater Elementary’s award is the kind of building block that will lead to better things. Waiting is not a luxury they have. What will come next?