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

Stay Sharp Newsletter: September 2016


September 2016

A+ Updates

ICYMI: A Sharp, New Website
Check out brand-new for our latest and greatest–new blog posts, data sets, and more!

Meet the latest addition to the A+ Team!
Courtesy of the marvelous AmeriCorps VISTA program, Samantha Grainger Shuba (Sam for short) will head up A+ communications for the next year. She has already spent two months learning the ropes and will continue to add to our social media presence, graphic design, and web development. Sam’s originally from Salem, Oregon and got her B.A. in Rhetoric Studies from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

Summer Fun
The A+ Colorado team was honored to host Rachel Weir, a Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) fellow this summer. Hailing from Teach for America in North Carolina, Rachel spent her summer with us working with districts to collect and analyze data for our upcoming reports. Her landscape analysis and data development will be vital to our work in the year to come. Rachel leaves us for a Princeton in Asia Fellowship in Shenyang, China where she will be teaching college-level English courses. Best of luck to her!

Stay Sharp with these Upcoming Reports:

  • A review of Denver’s ProComp teacher pay system and a new proposal for how teachers should be paid
  • A candidate survey report on all running for the Colorado State Board of Education
  • The academic state of Colorado’s largest 40 school districts

News to Share

Latest Data Releases
It’s shaping up to be another fall of hurry up and wait for the state to release all of the results from last spring’s tests. Over the summer, we got a taste of what’s to come with state, district, and school level ACT scores (disaggregated by student groups at the state level; Colorado doesn’t release ACT results by student groups at the school or district level); and CMAS science and social studies results (though not yet by student group for districts and schools).

CDE released a teaser of state level disaggregated PARCC scores in August, and just hours ago, we got a district- and school-level picture of how Colorado kids did on PARCC. Disaggregated results at the school and district level are trailing even further behind as the state wrangles with how to implement new student data privacy requirements in their release.

Without disaggregated scores, it’s impossible to know how different groups of students are being served in their schools and districts. Without this critical level of transparency, it’s significantly more challenging to determine which schools and programs are serving kids the best.

Teacher-Parent Collaborations
As schools have started, we are thrilled to see so many teachers and districts taking the initiative to make stronger connections to families. Parents are too often an overlooked partner that can make an important impact on their child’s success in school. Adams 14 (Commerce City) teachers recently took a Saturday to ask parents how they could do better. Denver is continuing to build out a robust home visit program. Aurora is also launching a teacher home visit program this upcoming year. Given the challenges for many working parents, it is critical that schools and districts do more to partner with families on supporting the academic growth of their children.

Goodbye ACT, Hello SAT
The 2015-16 school year marked the last time all of Colorado’s juniors will take the ACT. This spring, the state will make the switch over to the SAT, the new measure of college and career readiness for Colorado high schoolers. These exams will be the best single measure for the quality of a district in preparing graduates for college work. This year’s overall state scores edged up slightly (from 20.1 to 20.4) with the same trends in Denver (18.4 to 18.6) and Aurora (17.0 to 17.3). When reviewing the school level data, there were a number of high flyers whose scores significantly outpaced their peers (check out the chart below that shows average ACT scores at schools by one measure of their demographic composition). We will be reporting more on these schools in the fall, including: Thomas Maclaren State Charter School, The Vanguard School, Denver Center for International Studies, DSST: Stapleton High School, DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School, Norwood Public School, York International, KIPP Denver Collegiate, and Strive Prep-Excel.



Changing Seats at DPS and APS, Signs of Change?
There continue to be significant shuffles of DPS and APS’s senior leadership. Congratulations go out to Eddie Koen, the new Chief of Staff at DPS.  Eddie comes with a strong background of supporting low-income students as he headed College Track in Aurora. And just down Colfax, APS has hired a rockstar charter leader from Delaware, Lamont Browne to lead their charter and innovation schools.

While Tom Boasberg returned last month to reclaim the helm as DPS superintendent, other key senior positions remain empty or have just been filled by newcomers.  The most critical DPS position yet to be filled will be the person who oversees DPS school portfolio which includes oversight for all of the district’s innovation and charter schools.  Will this position be an executive director position under the Chief of Operations or will it be a cabinet level position as charter and innovation schools make up the majority of DPS? This fall portends a crossroads for DPS: will the district make more progress towards portfolio management or will it fall back to more traditional management of schools. The district’s new literacy effort and luminary school network of innovation schools will likely be bellwethers for the district. See Van’s reflection from May, WWTD.


2016 new schools