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

Stay Sharp Newsletter: February 2020

Without you, we’d be pointless! With love in the air as we wrap up the best education party of the year, we have plenty of education updates throughout Colorado. This Stay Sharp Newsletter features testimony we’ve provided around teacher education legislation, we welcome a new team member, and a brand new segment of A+ Answers related to shifting demographics and school choice from October Count data. All of this + more in this month’s Stay Sharp Newsletter.

A+ Updates

Celebration Recap: How We Embolden Education

Last Friday evening brought together 200+ education advocates at A+ Colorado’s annual Sharpening Education Celebration as we honored Governor Jared Polis, Founder and CEO of Moonshot edVentures, Christine DeLeon, and founder of the African Leadership Group, Papa Dia, for their bold leadership and current work to improve education throughout Colorado. The evening was our biggest success raising over $110,000 to support A+ Colorado’s work for Colorado’s students. We are extremely grateful to our supporters who make this work possible.

Browse and share pictures from our event.

Didn’t make it to the event? You can still make a gift to support our work for Colorado’s students.

A+ Welcomes Valeria Contreras to the Team!

Valeria joins A+ Colorado as the new Advocacy Director. Valeria was raised in Aurora, CO. She attended Aurora Public Schools, and graduated from Hinkley High School. She previously worked as a Middle School Language Arts Teacher in Denver, and as a Community Organizer in Aurora. Valeria earned a B.A. in Ethnic Studies and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado Boulder. She is a first-generation U.S. citizen and college graduate. We are so thrilled to have her be part of the A+ Colorado team.

News to share

A+ Stands By Bonuses for Educators

Education has found itself at the frontline of many conversations during the 2020 legislative session. A+ Colorado testified on SB 20-066 to support highly effective teachers and low-performing schools. Although this isn’t the first time a form of this legislation has found itself in the “kill committee,” A+ Colorado believes teachers are the single most important in-school factor that impacts students. We believe that compensation is an important part of supporting our teachers, and our students. We have strongly advocated for increasing compensation for teachers, including incentives to support teaching in schools with the highest turnover. Read the full testimony here.

State SPF vs. Denver SPF… What’s the Deal?

In January the Reimagine SPF Committee in Denver Public Schools decided to recommend that the district use the state school performance framework to set the bar for academic standards for schools. The committee now grapples with what additional indicators the district should measure and communicate to educators, families, and communities. A+ Colorado presented to the committee about the differences between the DPS and CDE frameworks to inform decisions about indicators to prioritize, and tradeoffs to consider including sharing analysis that illustrates that the state performance framework is more tightly correlated with student demographics than Denver’s SPF.

Are Ratings Predictable Based on School Demographics?

Colorado State Board of Education Focus on Students 

The Colorado State Board of Education made landmark decisions on February 13 regarding several of Colorado’s lowest performing schools, putting students first. The state board revoked Hope Online Learning Academy’s elementary school charter program because of nine plus years of extremely low academic performance. Hope’s academic performance has hovered mostly below 50 percent median growth percentile while the latest CMAS scores show that approximately one in ten students are reaching proficiency in math and reading. It was time for the board to intervene on behalf of students. On that same day, the state board praised Denver Public Schools’ efforts at addressing two of their most underperforming schools, Lincoln and Manual high schools. The board provided nearly unanimous support for the Manual and Lincoln turnaround plans because of the quality of their school plans, each of the schools’ new experienced leadership and the district’s thoughtful approach towards school improvement. The Colorado State Board of Education is doing their job ensuring that Colorado students have great public schools to reach the standards we have set for students. A+ Colorado is grateful to see bipartisan support for these decisions and our state board’s efforts to ensure an effective school for every Colorado student. 

A+ Answers

“Are there any interesting stories in the recently released October Count data?”

A cursory analysis of the recently released October count data has us talking about school choice and the changing demographic landscape in Colorado education. As the overall student population growth has slowed in recent years, the number of students identified as Hispanic has continued to grow steadily and many students and families are exercising their right to choose a school that is best suited to their needs. Read the full A+ Answers here.

Spotlight: Bold Awardees

This month at the 3rd annual Sharpening Education Celebration, we were thrilled to celebrate three innovative leaders making bold changes to improve public education throughout the state of Colorado. We encourage our readers to learn more about these individuals and the incredible work they are doing for education and students throughout Colorado:

Papa Dia is the founder and executive director of the African Leadership Group, an advocacy organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for immigrants. Through social, economic and educational empowerment programs, ALG helps families successfully integrate into their community.

Moonshot edVentures founder Christine DeLeon has a wide range of experiences in leadership development, entrepreneurship, and rethinking school. As CEO of Moonshot edVentures, Christine is responsible for surfacing and supporting a diverse set of leaders, representative of the communities they aim to serve, to design and launch the learning environments (e.g. schools and programs) of tomorrow.

Governor Jared Polis’ tenure in public administration and public service is distinguished by his commitment to Colorado education. His recognitions include, but aren’t limited to being the co-Founder of the Academy of Urban Learning, Colorado’s outstanding Philanthropist (2006), Boulder Daily Camera’s Pacesetter Award in Education. Kauffman Foundation Community Award, Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Humanitarian Award, Chairman and Vice-Chair of the State Board of Education.

Colorado students and families have better education opportunities thanks to these inspiring leaders. We encourage you to check out more of their work and see how you can get involved in supporting their missions.

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