Author: kristina

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The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel editorial board released this op-ed asserting the important role higher standards have played in the downward trend in remediation rates.

By The Daily Sentinel

Colorado’s move to adopt higher educational standards back in 2009 arose from an alarming number of high school graduates forced to enroll in remedial classes in college.

In the six years since, additional reforms led to more assessments, unfunded mandates and teacher accountability standards. Predictably, a backlash followed and this spring lawmakers passed a series of compromises aimed at reducing the testing load, but keeping high standards and accountability measures in place.

Meanwhile, the push for higher standards seem to be working. On Friday, The Sentinel’s Emily Shockley reported that the number of students enrolled at Colorado Mesa University who had to take remedial courses dipped from 36.2 percent in 2012-13 to 29.6 percent in 2013-14.

That’s encouraging. Any improvement is good, but it’s also a shame that nearly three in 10 CMU students have to pay tuition for remedial courses. These classes don’t earn students credit toward a degree but are necessary to get them up to speed for classes that do count. (more…)

6688778Troy Rivera, an English Language Arts teacher at University High School in Greeley, reflects on how the Common Core helped him raise the bar in the classroom and provide more rigorous instruction for his students.

By Troy Rivera

In the late 1990s, I can remember sitting in college-prep English class reading Shakespeare’s MacBeth. From the vocabulary sheets, questions, quizzes, and many more assignments to complete for this unit, I never really felt any learning occurring. I never felt challenged. I never really did any thinking. Now fast-forward 20 years.

The year is 2015. It’s a 9th grade level classroom. I’m teaching. Just recently within the past several years, our state standards took a shift and merged with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Expectations for our students shift. So, the question is, for the better, or for the worse? Before we answer that question, let’s review a few things.

As educators, we are responsible for making sure that our students are life long learners. Yes, I said it, life long learners. In order for our students to become life long learners, there is much work to be done. Our students look to us for the guidance, tools, skill sets, and knowledge on how to be successful upon leaving the classroom. We do accomplish this by providing the best education possible, for all. We set our own expectations, but we also have the expectations required for our students to match up with other student nationally.

When our state made the shift of merging CCSS into our current standards, this raised the bar for our students. By raising the bar, I was able to raise the bar in the classroom. Now, standards are expectations of what we strive for our students to be able to do in order to be productive citizens in the world. How we go about teaching, using the standards, as our map is our curriculum. Let me clear the air real quickly; standards are not curriculum, they are expectations.

 (more…)

For the first time this school year, thousands of Colorado students took the PARCC test, also known as the Colorado Measures of Academic Success. Looking to learn more? Check out this new video from Future Forward to learn everything you need to know about our new high quality assessment. And make sure to visit our Quick Facts page for even more information on Colorado’s higher standards and more rigorous assessments.

Pamela Nortonby Pamela Norton

Denver resident Pamela Norton is the founder and president of Activate.

Leading up to the controversial Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing in Colorado last month, several friends said they planned to pull their kids from the test.

Other friends said their kids were pressuring them to do so. My child did try that tactic, but he knew I wouldn’t agree.

I told my friends to stay strong so they could learn from the data the test would provide. I asked, “How can you help ensure your children are getting the best education if you don’t know how they are doing compared to children in the rest of the world?”

For years, we have been living on “feel-good” subjective standards that gave some of us a false sense that our school is “blue-ribbon,” with the smartest and brightest students. We’ve had only subjective standards for K-12 ever since the testing conversation began in 1959. Since then, we’ve seen many failed government initiatives and programs, until we finally obtained a bipartisan solution six years ago.

Finally, after all this work and investment, the state has implemented the Colorado Measures Academic Success (CMAS) PARCC tests so we can provide parents, teachers and schools with a benchmark and real insights to ensure our children are competitive.

 (more…)

By Vicki Phillips

If you watch William Anderson teach, or listen to him talk, two things become readily clear: William sets high expectations for students and he connects with students through assignments that are relevant to them.

WAndersonIn his 7th year in education, William is a teacher and the Social Studies department chair at the Martin Luther King Early College High School in Denver, CO.  He teaches two upper grade classes in ethnic studies and spends the rest of his time working with teachers, including observing, coaching and co-planning with them.

Denver was one of the first districts in Colorado to actively adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  And, when asked about the CCSS, William doesn’t pull any punches: “We need to think about them in terms of curriculum, practice, units, and lessons.  They get framed as accountability but they are really instructional tools. They are about instruction.  We need to move the conversation from ‘here are the standards and here’s the evaluation’ to ‘let’s look at these standards and think about the lessons we are designing.’”

William continues, “In my classroom, I incorporate the Common Core into the curriculum and content I think is important.  We do a lot of critical reading and critical writing. And it works.  Any teacher can do it. The Common Core is really about pointing toward best practice.” (more…)

“It’s really important to have high standards for all students across the board, to truly prepare them for the workplace and for higher levels of education.” — Matthew Johnson, Denver 4th grade teacher

In this video from America Achieves, Colorado educators discuss the importance of high standards.

Curious to see the Common Core in action? This video shows how one second-grade class is using the standards to develop a deeper understanding of the Pledge of Allegiance.

This video explains how the PARCC test works, which is known as CMAS in Colorado.

The business community talks a lot about the importance of a “quality assessment.” Wondering what that means? Here are the pieces of a quality assessment.

What is a quality assessment?

by Paul Lingenfelter

Paul E. Lingenfelter is president emeritus of the State Higher Education Executive Officers association. He is now on the board of PARCC, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Earlier this month, higher education leaders in Colorado took a significant step to close the persistent gap between the number of students who enroll in college and the number who graduate.

Officials at the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) on March 8 announced that Adams State University and Aims Community College will begin using PARCC, the state’s K-12 assessment of college and career readiness, to determine whether entering college freshman are prepared to take college level courses.

This makes Adams State and Aims the first colleges in the state and the nation to agree to use or validate PARCC as a college readiness assessment to determine which students need remediation.

Why is this progress? PARCC assessments, administered through high school and aligned with the requirements for success in college, provide feedback to students long before high school graduation. High school students and their teachers will know well in advance whether they are prepared or on track to being prepared for college-credit bearing courses. (more…)

Pamela Nortonby Pamela Norton

Denver resident Pamela Norton is the founder and president of Activate, mother of two, and has many friends with children across the Colorado school system.

Parents, teachers, and the larger community in Colorado are frustrated with the amount of testing in our schools. Unfortunately, to demonstrate this concern, some parents are threatening to pull students out of the statewide PARCC test. This dissenting voice should be heard, but the tactic of opting-out doesn’t solve the problem of over-testing. Instead, it reduces transparency.

I am a parent of two children, who were students at what I thought were high performing public schools. However, after my oldest graduated, I was shocked to learn that she didn’t have many of the skills needed to succeed in college. Since then, I also realized my son is behind in high school. How could a school be labeled as an A+ school yet still have 40 percent of its students needing some sort of remedial education? That doesn’t sound like an A+ to me. (more…)

Future Forward’s newest infographic tells how our country’s standards haven’t been up to par for decades — and how the Colorado Academic Standards and the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS/PARCC) fix that.

Are Colorado's students prepared to compete?

Do you believe in Colorado’s standards and assessments? Share out this icon on social media:

CMAS_Stay Strong Graphic

koaColorado Succeeds’ Vice President of Policy Luke Ragland spoke to 850 KOA this morning about the importance of the statewide assessment. He debunks many myths about testing in this interview and offers some clear reasons why parents should opt in to the tests. Listen here:

Our partners at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have a new video out about the importance of high standards. View it here:

bill bennettby Bill Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education for Pres. Reagan and host of the nationally syndicated talk show, “Morning in America.”

The implementation of the Common Core State Standards has stirred up much controversy and debate. Some of this debate is healthy, particularly over how to develop rigorous, common standards and assessments. Also, the criticism of the federal government’s intrusion into a state-led initiative is a legitimate matter for distress. Increasingly, however, lies, myths, exaggerations and hysteria about what the Common Core means and does have dominated the “debate” and the real issues have been obscured. Dishonest critics have decided that the Common Core is a pestilence on the land and have so characterized it. It is not. (more…)

Re: “PARCC won’t solve our testing problems,” Feb. 6 guest commentary.

Michael Mazenko notes that the argument for PARCC tests is not “evidence-based.” Neither is the argument against — we haven’t even administered the test yet.

Where is the sense in spending countless hours and dollars on a new, high-quality test that seeks to solve so many of the problems associated with old standardized tests, only to trash it all based on speculation (mixed with a little politics and fear)?

I was one of the educators from Colorado involved in the development and review of PARCC test items, and I spent considerable time making sure it aligns to the standards and uses authentic text and real-world problems to cultivate a rich and engaging learning experience. While we will likely need to refine and tweak it, it’s still a good test.

The law requires us to have an assessment in place, so if we pull out of PARCC, the alternative is to start from scratch. That alone should convince naysayers to at least stay the course until we have that “evidence.”

Jessica Moore, Longmont

This letter was published in the Feb. 15 edition of The Denver Post.

 

Standards & Assessments Task Force PresentationThe Standards & Assessments Task Force, also known as the HB1202 Commission, finished its work last week with a presentation to the Joint House and Senate Education Committees at the Colorado General Assembly. The business community was represented on the task force by Donna Lynne from Kaiser Permanente and Luke Ragland of Colorado Succeeds.

Read the full recommendations by clicking here.

Or get up-to-speed with a few highlights from Colorado Public Radio.

Major General James “Spider” Marks gives powerful testimony as to why military families deserve consistent, high-quality education standards.

Jandel Allen-Davis

Jandel Allen-Davis

By Jandel Allen-Davis and David Beal

In the health-care and insurance industries, we depend on evaluation and feedback from our customers and patients to help us provide better products and services. Similarly, our employees use input from supervisors to mark and monitor progress, celebrate wins and identify areas for improvement.

In much the same way, parents and educators need accurate feedback about the critical knowledge and skills Colorado’s students are acquiring throughout their education. Now more than ever, we need to know that our students are prepared for college and career.

Unfortunately, we’re not sure at the moment. By 2020 in Colorado, 74 percent of all jobs will require some post-secondary education. Right now, only 22 percent of Colorado’s students will complete a two or four-year degree program. Simply put, if we stay on this track, Colorado’s kids will not be ready for Colorado’s jobs. This is why we are a part of Future Forward Colorado, along with a coalition of business organizations statewide, to show support for higher expectations known as the Colorado Academic Standards, which include the Common Core in English and math, and aligned assessments. (more…)

Country’s problem of unequal education is too important to be sacrificed to partisanship.

I’m no stranger to the full-contact sport of politics. But to this day, it still irks me to see how easily a thoughtful and painstaking approach to fixing real problems can be hijacked by shortsighted, sometimes cynical decisions made for nothing more than political gain. Our political system has an amazing and at times frustrating tolerance for this kind of trade-off, which is rooted in the assumption that given enough time and information, voters will eventually make the right choice. There are some issues, though, that demand more urgent attention, especially when the remedy is within our grasp. Fixing this problem is too important to be sacrificed on the altar of politics. (more…)

 

Understand the Colorado Academic Standards, which include the Common Core in English and Math, through the lens of football.

Football Infographic explaining colorado curriculum

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. (more…)

Front Porch Colorado Academic Standards

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.

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…)

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…)

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…)

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.

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…)