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

May Newsletter: Keeping you informed about A+ Denver

New Colorado Graduation Requirements
A+ Denver has been a strong advocate for linking a high school diploma to some authentic measure of competency instead of seat time.  More than half of the 2013 graduating seniors in Denver will require remediation if they choose to go to college and about a third of them are academically underprepared for military service. We have an opportunity to raise the bar for graduating seniors.

The Colorado State Board of Education took a bold step on Wednesday to increase minimum state graduation standards. This effort was championed by Colorado Department of Education’s Jo O’Brien, State Board Chair Paul Lundeen and Denver representative Elaine Ganz Berman. These new graduation standards will give students multiple ways to demonstrate competency. While these new minimum state standards will not go into effect until 2021, there is nothing stopping school districts from adopting more rigorous standards sooner.  Approximately 20,000 students a year in Colorado (that’s a full Pepsi Center) receive a high school diploma despite ACT scores that demonstrate that they are unlikely to pass college level classes.

Urban High School Summit

We would like to thank all of you who joined us for the High School Summit on April 24th, including our cosponsors Get Smart Schools and DFER-CO, and the presenters who donated their time. The Summit was designed to launch a larger movement to rethink high schools. It’s impossible to get more students to succeed in college without radically improving our secondary schools. We think that if we challenge our assumptions about what high schools have to be, we can create a learning experience where kids will be truly engaged and get to higher levels of learning.

We want to hear from you about how you would redesign high schools. Take our survey.

What’s next?

As school lets out for the summer, we will be reflecting on how the still new DPS SchoolChoice enrollment process is working for parents, students and schools.  A+ Denver will issue a short paper on the state of choice after convening a “transparency committee” composed of parents, district, charter and outside district experts. To join the conversation, please email your comments to Maggie.

School Visit: University Prep

This month we visited University Prep, an impressive elementary charter school inDenver’s Five Points neighborhood. Young scholars (K-2) participate in a highly focused extended school day that centers on academics, character and preparation for college.

Save the date… June 25th Movie Night: 56 Up 

Featuring Colorado Public Radio film critic, Howie Movshovitz, and veteran public radio host, Dan Drayer.

Join us for special one night screening of “56 Up” in what is described by many film critics as the greatest set of documentaries ever produced. Roger Ebert says the Up series is “the noblest project in cinema history.”  In 1963, 7-year-old children from various walks of life were interviewed for a BBC broadcast, in an attempt to see if the class system was still alive in Britain. Every seven years since then, Michael Apted, who was an assistant on the original project, has made a documentary film, tracing those children into their adult lives. They are now 56 and the subject of “56 Up.”

The screening will be followed by a discussion about film, social mobility, and the role of education. More to come.

What’s new?

DPS has a new user friendly website! Check it out. 

We also made some small changes to our website, thanks to Colorado Give Camp and a group of developers in Boulder who spent all weekend improving the websites of several nonprofits.

Speaking of talented people willing to donate time and expertise, please email us if you know of a creative agency that might be willing to partner on a short video.