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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

Pueblo educator: Colorado Academic Standards set the bar higher

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Photo By Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post.

Photo By Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post.

Crystal Gallegos, a Pueblo educator, recently wrote an op-ed for the Denver Post expressing her support for Colorado’s new academic standards. In her opinion piece, Gallegos explains how, until recently, students’ education was largely dictated by where they lived.

This is changing thanks to the Colorado Academic Standards, which set higher expectations for students “while ensuring that where a family lives, their income, or their race or ethnicity won’t determine the quality of education a child receives.” She explains how higher standards are essential to closing achievement gaps and making sure more Colorado students graduate prepared for college and career. This means that all Colorado students, from Dolores to Fort Collins, have opportunities to excel and reach their full potential. This also means that Colorado businesses in every corner of the state have access to the homegrown workforce they need.

As Gallegos says, the Colorado Academic Standards “represent a major step forward for education in our state.” By raising the bar and setting higher expectations, we can continue to drive improvements in student achievement and secure a stronger future for Colorado.

To read Crystal’s op-ed, click here.

 

Video: Colorado Teacher Sheds Light on Our New Math Standards

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In a new video from Real Learning for Real Life, Aurora teacher, Cassie Harrelson, explains Colorado’s new math standards and the benefits for teachers and students.

I’m a Colorado educator and I helped build the PARCC math exams

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appleJoanie Funderburk is in her 25th year as a math educator. She has represented Colorado on several committees with PARCC and has been an active member of the Colorado PARCC Educator Leader Cadre since Colorado became a PARCC state in 2012.

As the students of Colorado take the first round of the new state tests for math and English, many debates surrounding testing, and these tests in particular, are heating up.

As a math educator for over 25 years, including more than 19 in Colorado, I hear comments and critiques of the tests that demonstrate fear and confusion around PARCC, the testing consortium at the core of Colorado’s new assessments.

I have had the opportunity to participate in several phases of the creation of the PARCC math tests, and each time, I learned more about the test, the expectations for students, and ways that teachers could support students in being prepared for the test. These experiences gave me confidence in these tests. I hope that by explaining my reasons for this confidence, I might help alleviate some of the stress teachers, parents, and students may be feeling.

Just days after Colorado became a PARCC state in August of 2012, I traveled with about 25 other Colorado educators to Chicago to the first convening of the PARCC Educator Leader Cadre. This group met approximately twice a year, and at each convening we had the chance to ask questions, give input, and provide feedback to shape what was important to each of our states. (more…)

Proficient now means prepared, by Cheryl Oldham

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ImprimirCheryl Oldham is the Vice President for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The higher education community came together this week to show its continued support of high academic standards and aligned assessments in K-12 education. A joint statement from Higher Ed for Higher Standards, the National Association of System Heads, and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association urges states to continue moving forward with college and career ready standards and aligned assessments.

Why is this important?

This is important because low standards in K-12 education have led to a generation of young people who believe they were prepared for life after high school when often they were not.

Let’s take a look at the data.

 (more…)

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: Remediation and graduation standards

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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…)

Raising the Bar for Our Students

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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…)

Everything You Need to Know About CMAS in 50 Seconds

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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.

Did PARCC pass the test for my son?

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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…)

Focus on Teachers: William Anderson on Common Core instruction

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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…)