Tag Archives: resources

A Glimpse at New Schools: Jeffco's 21st Century Virtual Academy

It seems almost everyone is getting in on the virtual public school act in Colorado these days. But that’s a good thing, because having more options is better for students and parents. One of the latest options, opening new for fall 2009, is Jeffco’s 21st Century Virtual Academy. Operated by the state’s largest school district — Jefferson County Public Schools in west metro Denver — the program offers a wide range of high school course offerings for students ages 14 to 20 who are Colorado residents (and not necessarily of Jefferson County). Courses are aligned to state standards and local graduation requirements, but also feature an array of electives as well. Besides the core areas of English, math, science, and social studies, subjects available through the virtual program include:

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A Breakthrough in Building Student Brain Power for Colorado Success?

Maybe this isn’t the best time to bring up the subject — what, with the hot summertime sun baking our brain cells and the new school year still many weeks away for most kids. But I wanted to let you know about a Colorado nonprofit group creatively working to bridge an important gap sometimes overlooked in the world of education policy. Listen to Cognitive First Children’s Campaign founder and executive director Larry Hargrave explain on an iVoices podcast how his group seeks to make brain skills testing and intervention resources more accessible to Colorado students:

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New CDE Report Offers Valuable Digest of Information on Colorado Charters

Update: The good people of Ed News Colorado have also written about The State of Charter Schools in Colorado (PDF), breaking down some of the key information if you don’t have time to dig through the whole report. Do you need a good reference digest of important information on charter schools in Colorado? Well, my friend and Education Policy Center senior fellow Krista Kafer has done it again, joining Dr. Dick Carpenter to co-author another valuable report for the Colorado Department of Education. The brand new report is called The State of Charter Schools in Colorado (PDF). Skim through it, and you’ll see there really is no such thing as an average charter school. As the movement has grown in our state over the last 15 years, both the number and the diversity of charters has increased.

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Kudos to the Commish, But Parents Also Have Important Reform Role to Play

Yesterday, in a Denver Post guest commentary, Colorado’s commissioner of education Dwight Jones weighed in with some thoughts about our “race to the top” for innovative and effective education reform: Innovation is more than just a good idea, it’s about putting that good idea into practice. The Colorado Department of Education is presently pursuing a wide variety of innovative education models, including new approaches to teacher preparation, leadership development, school choice and the way in which education is funded. We are organizing strategies and directing resources in ways to innovate intentionally, and, in so doing, increase capacity to take to scale what improves education for Colorado’s students.

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Arne Duncan & Feds Spending Freely, Doing Little for Real School Reform

Yesterday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan came to town. The good news is he visited two of Denver’s autonomy schools: Bruce Randolph and Montclair. The Education Secretary certainly is saying the right things about how this approach can grow: “The business we should be in is scaling up what works as quickly as possible,” Duncan said. “Let’s take those lessons, let’s replicate them and move on absolutely as fast as we can with a sense of urgency. We have to get dramatically better as a country, and we need to do it as fast as we can.” The $5 billion pot of “Race to the Top” innovation money is supposed to fulfill this purpose. As pointed out by Swifty Charlie and Flypaper’s Mike Petrilli, the reality is that “Race to the Top” is the only part of the federal stimulus funds that has even a legitimate shot at advancing school reform. Colorado may make some modest strides with the innovation dollars, but it very well could be outweighed by the much greater opportunity and resources wasted.

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"I Ask You, President Obama, to Please Save My Scholarship"

My tummy feels sick today — not because of something I ate, or any bug or anything. But because of the news that Congress’s latest spending binge includes a provision to take away school choice from some of the neediest kids in the nation’s capital. Watch the video from Voices of School Choice. These kids can tell you why it’s important for President Obama to stop what Congress is trying to do (H/T Matt Ladner): I’ll let the Wall Street Journal sum up with its excellent editorial today: On Tuesday, Mr. Obama spoke of the “historic investment in education” in the stimulus bill, which included a staggering, few-strings-attached $140 billion to the Department of Education over two years. But he also noted that “our schools don’t just need more resources; they need more reform,” and he expressed support for charter schools and other policies that “open doors of opportunity for our children.” If he means what he says, Mr. Obama won’t let his fellow Democrats consign 1,700 more poor kids to failing schools he’d never dream of letting his own daughters attend. Please do your part in asking the President to save the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. (And hope that […]

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Westminster Switches to Standards System (the Next Doogie Howser?)

As I look forward to my full-time education here in Colorado, I have to wonder if innovative ideas like the program Westminster School District has started will catch on. From a 9News report (including video) (H/T Complete Colorado): The district will shed the traditional kindergarten through 12th grade system in exchange for a standards-based model with assessment levels of one through ten. Students of different ages will be grouped together by assessment level. Students can only move on the next level if they show proficiency in the standards at their level. “There’s nothing magic about nine months in a classroom or at a particular grade level,” said [superintendent] Dr. [Roberta] Selleck. “The critical component in our standards-based model is that time becomes the variable.” This model was developed by smaller school districts in Alaska. Adams 50 will be the first larger school district in the nation to eliminate grade levels, certainly the first in Colorado. Dr. Selleck says this will allow students to learn and advance at their own pace. Some students will be able to move up levels during the school year, while others may take more than one school year before moving up. Wow! I just have a […]

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