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

Opting into a Worthwhile Experiment

Twenty years ago, the introduction of charter schools changed Denver Public Schools more than any single policy since busing had done. Then, last month the Board said that schools should have to “opt-in” rather than “opt-out” of district supports like curriculum, school-based assessments, and professional development.   It’s nothing short of a paradigm shift. Not…

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Tilting toward Dystopia

Colorado’s 20-year record of steady (if slow) improvement may be dashed in coming weeks if political leaders do not stand up for accountability. We’re one of many states in the midst of a series of critical education policy battles that could send us back to a time when there was little information about the quality…

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Is a Colorado high school diploma really worth anything?

In 2013 the Colorado Department of Education sat down to take a look at what a high school diploma in Colorado was worth. In releasing the first recommendation of graduation guidelines, the State Board recognized students will need to function in “a modern information dependent society,” where there is a need “for a ‘floor’ of…

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Van’s Ramblings: A Plea for Inquiry on this year’s TCAP results

Dear friends, On August 13 Colorado’s 2014 TCAP scores will be released, and as has happened since “Nation at Risk” was released in 1983, almost everyone will be frustrated with what will likely be only small, incremental improvement. Some will blame reforms, saying they’ve been too weak, too strong, or misguided. Others will point to…

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Van’s Ramblings: Less is more

Dear friends, In 2013, Mat Honan wrote an article for WIRED called Why Subtraction Is the Hardest Math in Product Design. He points out that simplicity sticks, saying it has “made hits of the Nest thermostat, Fitbit, and TiVo. Simple brought Apple back from the dead. It’s why you have Netflix. The Fisher Space Pen,…

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Van’s Ramblings: A high school diploma, a ticket to where?

Dear friends, This month, thousands of DPS high school students will celebrate their graduation, smiling and holding freshly printed diplomas- feeling empowered by having achieved a milestone, ready to tackle the next, but are they truly prepared for their next? From this class, about 4,000 kids will go on to college — roughly 1000 more…

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Voices: Some Monday morning quarterbacking on Amendment 66

Originally Posted by EdNews Colorado on November 19, 2013. Copyright © ednewscolorado.org. Written by Van Schoales. Read here.   A+ Denver CEO Van Schoales reflects on lessons that supporters of school finance reform should learn from the failure of the school tax measure Amendment 66. And join EdNews for a panel discussion on the future…

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Voices: 10 reasons we need better art in DPS

Originally posted on EdNewsColorado, September 7, 2012. Copyright © EdNewsColorado.org Written by Van Schoales. Van Schoales, head of A+ Denver, makes a personal and professional plea for higher quality and more comprehensive arts education in Denver Public Schools. For far too long, we education reformers have ignored quality arts education in public schools. We correctly…

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Voices: Denver should pursue Race dollars

Originally posted on EdNewsColorado, June 20, 2012. Copyright © EdNewsColorado.org Written by Jason Callegari. Jason Callegari, A+ Denver’s policy director, argues Denver Public Schools must update its strategic plan to have the best shot of winning Race to the Top dollars. On Aug. 12, the U.S. Department of Education announced its new $400 million Race…

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Voices: Is slow and steady enough for DPS?

Originally posted on EdNewsColorado, August 9. 2012. Copyright © EdNewsColorado.org Written by Van Schoales. Van Schoales, head of A+ Denver, finds much to admire in Denver Public Schools’ state test results but questions the pace of progress. Denver Public Schools continues to make slow and steady improvement at most grades on most subjects. Many improved…

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