These posts are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.

The Mis/Non-measure of Schools, Time to Re-think the SPF?

By Van Schoales A quality school is the most important factor–after family–in determining a person’s economic and social development. The research perspective is clear: schools can have a huge impact on not only academics but also on a person’s character and social skills. We see this in the impact that schools like KIPP have had…

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An American Thanksgiving

Photo courtesy of NPR By Van Schoales Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. What’s not to love about a full day of cooking, eating and conversation with family, friends and neighbors? Thanksgiving means many things to many different people, nor is it devoid of historical context, but for me it’s about community, fellowship and…

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Do Not Tell Me that My Culture Doesn’t Value Abstract Thinking

By Liz Reetz Reading Ibram X. Kendi’s blog “Why the Academic Achievement Gap is a Racist Idea” from the African-American Intellectual History Society left me conflicted. On one hand, I appreciate that Kendi historicizes standardized tests. Those of us who see value in standardized tests should not forget their eugenicist roots, nor should we forget…

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An (Un)Fair Share

By Lisa Berdie We recently released a report on teacher pay in Denver.  After much deliberation we settled on the title “A Fair Share.” But after working on this report, I’m not convinced that teachers are really receiving just that—a fair share. Denver Public Schools has an operating budget of about $1 billion. Approximately one…

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If Not Now: 2016 Progress Report: Increase Funding

By Liz Reetz Investing in Aurora’s public education system can generate enormous returns, particularly when funds are used strategically on known solutions. This year, APS took the first steps to leverage funding for increased student achievement. At the August 2 Aurora School Board Meeting, the Board unanimously approved a bond question for the November ballot.…

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If Not Now: 2016 Progress Report: Early Childhood Programming

By Liz Reetz Research shows that early childhood education prepares children to enter and succeed in the classroom, decreases their risk of social-emotional mental health problems, and increases their self-sufficiency as adults. Education during these formative years can also begin closing the educational achievement gap between low and high-income students before formal schooling begins. Effective…

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If Not Now: 2016 Progress Report: Turnaround Schools

By Liz Reetz As the end of the accountability clock draws near for Aurora Public Schools, the district has to create systems that support school-level improvements in its lowest performing schools. Though the district has begun to take steps to improve its lowest performing schools–creating the International Leadership Innovation Zone and replacing Fletcher Community School…

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If Not Now: 2016 Progress Report: Serving High-Need Students

By Liz Reetz Aurora has seen an increase in high need student populations. To serve its population of English Language Learners, immigrant and refugee students, and students with disabilities, APS can and should be using the funds of knowledge available throughout the Aurora community. APS can also look for examples locally and nationally of schools…

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If Not Now: 2016 Progress Report: Exemplar New Schools

By Liz Reetz Of the eight If Not Now recommendations, this is the one that has seen the most movement. While APS did not open any new schools this year, it did lay a foundation for developing exemplar new schools. Some of the most important developments include: a district reorganization, approving new APS schools, and…

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If Not Now: 2016 Progress Report: Rating System

By Liz Reetz The purpose of publicly available data is twofold: to inform people about the current state of affairs and to inspire improvements based on that knowledge. Families and communities should be able to access data about school quality, their student’s performance relative to other students in the district and the state, and an…

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