Tag Archives: transformation

All Eyes (Including Mine) on Radical Westminster School Innovation

I’ve told you before about Westminster School District’s program to move from seat time to standards — re-thinking the whole traditional grade system that has dominated American education for decades — and the Doogie Howser-like potential such a system could offer me. Well, earlier this week, Rebecca Jones at Ed News Colorado chronicled the fact that the moment of truth has arrived for Westminster (aka Adams 50): It’s the last day of the 2008-09 school year in the district. The last day of life as most students and teachers there have always known it. The last day that categories like “third grade” or “sixth grade” – or A or B+ or C- — will exist in most of Westminster. The district is scrapping traditional notions of grade level and doing away with letter grades. Students will instead progress through academic levels 1-10 based on their mastery of subjects, not on the length of time they’ve been in school. This concept, known as standards-based education, has been tried in individual schools and in some small districts in Alaska, but never before in a large, urban district such as Westminster. The bold step is bringing national attention to the district.


A Glimpse at New Schools: Kaplan Academy of Colorado

Some really smart people think online schools are the wave of the future that will completely innovate and transform the way we do and think about public education. I don’t know if they’re right or not, but the growth of online public schools in Colorado certainly makes their case a little stronger. Take for example Kaplan Academy of Colorado, new for 2008-09. Kaplan is an individualized, tuition-free, accredited program authorized by the Garfield School District in Rifle, Colorado: Imagine learning in a flexible, results-oriented environment that allows you to learn at your own pace—one that is free of the distractions of the traditional classroom. Learning from home, students can take a number of different courses, including “Language Arts, Foreign Languages, Health, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Electives such as Art History, Computer Applications, Journalism, Web Design, and more.” Go to the Kaplan website to sign up for more information. According to my friends at the Education Policy Center, you can also now see a brand new page on the School Choice for Kids website that shows all the home-based public online education programs in Colorado – hosted in places from Denver to Branson to Julesburg (and now) to Rifle. But […]


Colorado Might Just Be Getting Even Smarter about Education Reform

I hope that I get smarter as I go through school some day. Likewise, despite its success with advancing school choice and accountability so far, Colorado also needs to Get Smart(er) about education reform. At least that’s the premise behind a new group called Get Smart Schools Colorado. As the Rocky Mountain News reports: The idea behind Get Smart Schools is similar to school initiatives in Chicago and New York – one group pooling expertise and funding to help promising new school models get off the ground. That’s because research shows it’s typically more effective to start good new schools than it is to transform existing schools that are failing. In Colorado, the focus will be on importing quality school models that have been successful elsewhere and on helping promising new schools find facilities, an obstacle for many. Believe it or not, this sort of group really is needed. We know the importance of smaller schools, autonomy (big word!), strong leadership, high-quality instruction, research-based curricula, parental involvement (i.e., choice), and focus on student improvement. But with an experienced and qualified staff of its own, a group like Get Smart Schools Colorado can show new schools how to get it done […]