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

A+ Stay Sharp: 9.17.2020

Tuesday evening, 60+ of you joined us, FaithBridge and Transform Education Now during the “Education Justice Now” webinar, about providing access to experts for families and education organizations serving students.

Thank you to the panelists:
– Virginia Wilson-Cobble from the U.S. Office for Civil Rights
– Jessica Howard, ACLU of Colorado
– Kate Gerald, Education Law Offices

The conversation highlighted ways parents/guardians can navigate the educational system to help their student receive an equitable education, especially during the time of COVID-19. We will be sending out a full list of resources in the coming days. 

Until then, the conversation can be watched below on TEN’s Facebook page, and we will also have it posted on YouTube shortly. Submit questions you have by replying to this email. We hope to be hosting additional conversations in the coming months.

What we’ve been up to this week

Research, reporting, and writing from A+ Colorado

Op-ed: Time and Class Size. More important than the pay check? // Peter Huidekoper, Jr.

This is a guest submitted opinion piece, and does not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.

What issue speaks to teacher satisfaction, retention, and burnout, that also speaks to a healthy school climate and strong teacher-student relationships, that also speaks to social-emotional learning and personalization, that also speaks to students being engaged in the classroom and feeling that their voice can be heard? And that for those students, their teacher knows them well?

Class size, and the number of students a teacher is asked to teach.

I raise this issue with some folks and they tell me, “I don’t hear much about this issue.” (Almost as if resigned to a – well, it-is-what-it-is.) Exactly why I write this. And because in Colorado, class size is a greater problem than it is in most states.

Read this guest submitted opinion piece, about how class size and other factors can make a big difference in the profession of teaching here.

Outliers report 2020: Analyzing data as a pre-covid benchmark for academic achievement and basic needs across the state.

Each week, we will be highlighting sections of reports from the A+ research and policy team. Explore all of A+ research here. 

Over the past decade Colorado has, rightly, emphasized reading as a key area of focus. Over the past four years we have seen the average share of students meeting expectations in reading, writing, and critical thinking, measured by CMAS, shift up.

The distributional shift upwards means that most of Colorado’s districts saw significant improvements in the share of their students meeting standards over this period of time. The same cannot be said for math, where the whole of the distribution remained largely the same from 2016 to 2019, and outcomes remain lower than in English Language Arts.

In this dashboard, you can dig into academic outcomes for elementary and middle school students in core academic subjects.

Explore the Outliers data here.

Hot takes 

Musing, questions, and ideas from this week in education. 

This musing comes from A+’s president, Van Schoales. 

Do our schools know where their students are when they are supposed to be in school?

Listening to the most recent Denver Public Schools board meeting – and having been on any number of other meetings with the Colorado Department of Education and other education non-profits over the last month – it is increasing clear that there are far too many school districts that do not know where many of their students are during the day. 

This week Chalkbeat wrote about attendance and how nuanced it is. Melanie Asmar reported that while 88% of Denver students showing up for virtual classes on average, white students are attending more frequently than are students of color. And, younger children are attending virtual classes more frequently.  As Transform Education Now tweeted this week, “DPS is missing ~11,929 kids. As the @nytimes reported this weekend- are we losing a generation of children?”

It’s frankly a bit mind boggling that with all of the work having been done by so many over the last five months.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are many schools doing an amazing job but there remain some that seem only slightly less lost than they were in April.

How could it be that it is mid-September and there are still thousands of students that are AWOL? And I have not even begun to ask whether we should know if students.

A recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development suggests that the economic cost of the Pandemic will between $14-28 Trillion for the US.

I don’t think it is too much to ask our school districts to make sure our kids are in school, do you?

Working for the students

News, dispatches and highlights from organizations working tirelessly to improve public education in Colorado and beyond.

$16 Million literacy grant to Colorado | United States Department of Education

  • This competitive federal grant will support Colorado students to meet literacy benchmarks. “This funding will enable the state to build upon the progress from the READ Act, and it will allow us to focus on historically underserved populations,” said Katy Anthes, Colorado Education Commissioner.
  • Read more about the program here.

Colorado Applies Month toolkit | My Colorado Journey 

  • CDE has created a toolkit with resources that equip students with high-quality education and career planning; with weekly goals and detailed action steps to reach those goals. Colorado Applies Month runs from August 31 to October 13th. 

Expanded Healthy Schools Hub + Call for ambassadors | Colorado Education Initiative

  • The Ambassador program for the Expanded Healthy Schools Hub will launch in September 2020, and conclude in January 2021. Stipends are available for ambassadors who complete the program.
  • Applications due  September 21st.

Social/Emotional/Behavioral training | Colorado Department of Education

We want to hear from you

As we reflect on our “Education Justice Now” webinar, we want to hear from you about future webinars and resources you’re interested in.

  • What questions do you have about navigating the tricky education system during COVID-19?
  • Who would you be interested in hearing from about access to education? Experts, policy makers, teachers, etc.

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