Our Focus

SETTING HIGHER EXPECTATIONS

The Colorado Academic Standards, which include the Common Core Standards, describe what students need to learn by the end of a school year. These help ensure that all students, no matter where they live, have an opportunity to achieve success after school.

By reaching for and exceeding Colorado’s high academic standards, our youth will develop the resiliency and skills to excel in college and become top performers in any profession.

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PUTTING KIDS FIRST


By 2020, 74% of Colorado jobs will require some post-secondary education. Currently, only 22 of every 100 high school students end up with that credential. As a result, Colorado schools currently are producing less than half of the workers needed to fill the top 30 occupations with the largest projected openings.

Strong academic preparation will give our children the skills and confidence they need to achieve their dreams.

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READYING OUR KIDS FOR COLORADO’S JOBS

Colorado’s economy is rising to meet the needs of the 21st century but the state’s employers don’t have enough skilled candidates so they increasingly import workers from other states and countries.

With the higher expectations set by Colorado’s new academic standards, which include the Common Core Standards, our students will keep pace with the constant change in our communities, our business climate, and our world.

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The latest news from Future Forward Colorado

Investing in Colorado’s workforce of tomorrow is key requirement today

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Bob Tointonby Bob Tointon

Ask any of Colorado’s business leaders and they’ll tell you — the success of their company or organization depends on the knowledge and skills of their employees. Whether we’re in manufacturing and distribution, like Phelps-Tointon, or any other industry thriving in Greeley’s booming economy, we rely on a workforce that is up to the challenges of the job today and can adapt to the challenges that will come tomorrow.

It is no wonder, therefore, that the business community has a vested interest in education. That’s why I work closely with Greeley-Evans School District 6, and there is a lot of good work happening there. Despite these successes, our education system as a whole is in need of an upgrade.

The world is changing — fast. Just like the software on our computers, we need to be constantly upgrading our education system as the economy demands more of our workforce, or we won’t meet that demand. In Colorado, by 2020, 74 percent of all jobs will require some postsecondary education. Currently, only 22 out of every 100 high school graduates receive that kind of credential. So, with increased global competition, shifting demands, and a widening gap between how we’re educating our students and what we look for in our workers, how can we ensure that everyone succeeds? Enter a great plan known as the Colorado Academic Standards.

These carefully designed academic goals are being implemented in schools right now to help ensure that students — irrespective of their zip code or background — graduate from high school prepared for college and career. They raise the level of instruction and provide clarity and consistency to education, putting teachers, parents, business, and other community members on the same page. These are Colorado-developed standards for Colorado’s kids. The new academic expectations recognize that today’s students are tomorrow’s college applicants, professionals, and well-informed citizens. They also recognize that students need to be on par with their U.S. peers and global counterparts. For business, this means that we can hire in Colorado expecting a depth of knowledge that includes skills like critical thinking, adaptability, and teamwork.

For individuals, it means a clear understanding of how they’re progressing. It means that we have another measure in place to ensure that minority communities, traditionally under served by the education system, are getting the same high-quality education. It means that students will be prepared for postsecondary education, which is quickly becoming a non-negotiable job requirement, and for careers they pursue upon graduating. And it means a life of higher salaries, employment, and financial stability.

Greeley schools are implementing the new standards right now and this year will use a new generation of digital tests, helping teachers understand how to best meet kids’ needs and giving parents peace of mind that their children are headed toward college and career readiness.

The standards have opponents, though, who challenge whether Colorado’s — and Greeley’s — students can take on the task of meeting higher expectations. Our kids are up to the challenge. Making these standards work requires commitment and leadership, and this is why Phelps-Tointon and countless other companies are committed as a business coalition under the name Future Forward Colorado explaining why the Colorado Academic Standards are critical.

Education is still the key to the American dream. That’s true here in School District 6, where work to improve the system is headed in the right direction. We can provide the talented, well-educated workforce that will lead Colorado’s businesses. We already have a plan to upgrade our education system — embodied in world-class, clear and consistent academic standards. If we remain committed to seeing that plan through, we will succeed.

Bob Tointon is a Greeley businessman with Phelps-Tointon Inc. and a member of the board of the Greeley Downtown Development Association.  

This piece originally appeared in The Greeley Tribune. Click here for more. 

Front Porch: Not a Political Football: Local Educators Serious About Common Core

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Read this local article about the Colorado Academic Standards. An excerpt:

For this Front Porch article, we wanted to go beyond the politically charged national controversy and glean a deeper understanding of the CCSS and their impact on our neighborhood schools. So we turned to area experts. We spoke with State Sen. Mike Johnston (D-Denver) and convened a discussion group consisting of Denver School Board member Landri Taylor (District 4), principals Marcia Fulton (Odyssey), Liz Tencate (Swigert), Jill Corcoran (Westerly Creek); and fifth-grade math, science, and social studies teacher Marie Gruber (Westerly Creek). Our conversations revealed not only the complexity of and the controversy surrounding the CCSS, but also the promise this educational revolution holds for students.

Struggle is a Natural Part of Learning

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rmp teacher austen kassingerBy Austen Kassinger, 2nd Grade Teacher at Rocky Mountain Prep

I was determined to make Mrs. Hall’s list. Our tough fourth-grade math teacher was infamous for her sharp comments — “You look like a lost ball in high weeds” — as well as her annual prize to the few students she deemed worthy of A’s: a trip to the movies. The previous year, my older sister had gone to see “Godzilla,” which frightened her to tears, thereby giving her a taste of what the rest of Mrs. Hall’s students endured over the course of the year. Born with a fiercely competitive streak and accustomed to doing well in school, I knew that I would make Mrs. Hall’s A list.

That is, until we started long division. I struggled through the page of problems Mrs. Hall assigned for homework, erasing again and again as I tried to figure out the difference between a dividend and a divisor. Able to complete only five problems over the course of an excruciating evening, I begged my mother the next morning to let me stay home from school, believing that I could never show my face in math class with incomplete homework. more

Setting the Right Educational Standards for Colorado

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kelly-brough

By Kelly Brough, President & CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce

In just six short years, 74% of jobs in Colorado will require some sort of post-secondary education. It’s a daunting stat even for a highly educated region like ours in which roughly 47% of adults have a two- or four-year college degree (which ranks us second only to Massachusetts in terms of degrees per capita).

Just think about that for a minute – we rank second in the nation for the number of adults per capita with a college degree, yet we are still positioned to fall far short of our estimated workforce needs.

In Colorado, we’re known for our smart and healthy workforce, but we have been delivering that top-quality workforce by importing talent to our region. With a thriving economy like ours, an appealing and collaborative business community, and year-round recreation, it hasn’t been tough for us to draw people here. more

Common Core is Common Sense for Higher Ed

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paperclipCo-authored by Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of the State University of New York, John Morgan, Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, and William E. (Brit) Kirwan, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland In 2009, educators, teachers and stakeholders from 45 states came together to figure out how to make the education system better for our kids. The outcome is the “Common Core” — a blueprint that ensures our students will learn what they need to learn to succeed in this day and age. But change does not come without controversy. To be expected, there is opposition at both ends of the political spectrum. Critics on the Right argue the federal government forced these new standards on the states. Critics on the Left contend that the standards are being implemented too quickly. The reality is neither claim is true. Let’s begin with its creation. The Common Core was not developed by the federal government. It was actually designed by K-12 teachers, college faculty, businesses and other stakeholders who collectively developed appropriate standards for our kids’ schools. The new standards are higher than most states’ previous standards. more

Better Serving the Children of our Servicemen and Women

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States across the country have always established their own academic standards, curricula, and achievement goals. This inconsistency, however, creates problems for children from military families, who must move and change schools frequently as their parents are reassigned. For these children, moving from state to state not only has significant social and emotional challenges, it also complicates their education. It is critical for states to minimize the strain that moving has on these children; adopting and effectively implementing the Common Core State Standards would ensure that as students change schools, their education is consistent and of high quality.
Common Core can help improve education for children from military families:
• Families can be confident that their children will receive a high-quality and consistent education when they move across state lines.
• Students will not bear the burden of missing or repeating classes on top of the stress of moving across state lines.
• Consistent expectations will ease the transition from one year to the next as students cross state lines, allowing them to graduate on time.

Read more at the Center for American Progress website.

Common Core a priority for Colorado’s colleges and universities, by Mike Martin

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Mike MartinMike Martin is chancellor of the Colorado State University System.

Colorado is facing strong headwinds as we look to develop the state’s workforce of the future. Experts predict that by 2020, 74 percent of all the jobs in this state will require a college degree or some kind of post-secondary technical training.

If Colorado is going to develop that next generation of talent from within — which most leaders in business, politics and education agree is the goal — then much of the work of growing and building that workforce is going to fall to the state’s education system. It’s a daunting task and, according to the Lumina Foundation, we are not on pace to meet the goal.

Simply put, we must improve the pipeline of students coming out of the education system if we’re going to meet Colorado’s 21st century workforce needs. That’s why I join with many of my colleagues from across Colorado and within higher education to support the Common Core for K-12, a new set of education standards for what students should know and are able to do at each grade level. more

The Chicago Tribune: Defending the Common Core school standards

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rulerIn 2010, a who’s who of American educators and politicians joined forces to spearhead a national initiative with wide appeal and few if any critics. It was called the Common Core.

The pols and educators agreed: Too many U.S. students breezed through weak state achievement tests (think Illinois’ defunct ISAT), only to falter against tougher national and international assessments. Many students who reached college needed intensive tutoring.

The prescription: Create “a common set of high expectations for students across the country.” State school superintendents, other education leaders and teachers nationwide would write tough national math and English standards.

For English, the Core standards suggest that students be exposed to “classic myths and stories from around the world, foundational U.S. documents, seminal works of American literature and the writings of Shakespeare.” The standards stress reading comprehension, clear writing and vocabulary growth. There is no required reading list. more

New assessments aim to promote real learning, by Superintendent Dan Snowberger of Durango

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CalculatorBy Dan Snowberger, Superintendent of the Durango School District

Anyone watching the debate on both the state and national level knows there are a lot of discussions happening around the issue of assessment in public education.

There is no doubt we are entering a new phase of accountability in public education. We must ensure all students, regardless of background, achieve and learn within our schools.

This spring, we’ve gone through a transition period where our schools have completed their last year of the old assessment (CSAP/TCAP) and piloted new assessments. These assessments are based on new, higher academic standards, known as the Colorado Academic Standards, that have raised the bar for all of Colorado’s schools, so we can make sure our students are better prepared for college and the workforce. These standards emphasize real learning over basic memorization and test-taking skills and give students, parents and teachers clear and consistent benchmarks for every grade level.

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