Friday Churn: Costs of college

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Every year, the Department of Higher Education prepares what are bureaucratically called “student budget parameters” – estimates of college living expenses.

The projections, required by the federal government, are used by college financial aid officers to help decide financial aid for students.

The 2012-13 parameters were released Thursday to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, and here’s what they look like:

Students living with their parents will need an estimated $754 a month, and students living by themselves off campus will need $1,279 a month. The parameters don’t include a full estimate for students living on campus, because room and board rates vary by campus.

Read the document for more details and explanation of how the estimates are derived.

And if you need more sobering reading, the Department of Higher Education also has released its detailed annual report on the tuition and fees charged by every state college and university. That report covers costs for this school year – expect them to be higher in 2012-13.

Diana Sirko, Colorado Department of Education deputy commissioner, has announced she’s retiring June 30. Sirko, former superintendent in Aspen, joined CDE in mid-2010. She’s been heavily involved in overseeing such reform efforts as implementation of the new educator evaluation law.

The Denver Public Schools Foundation is ranked second in the nation in a study of educational foundations released this week by a Tampa, Fla.-based management and strategy consultancy.

Dewey & Associates studied foundations operating in the nation’s 50 largest school districts, and ranked the top 20, scoring them in eight separate performance categories. The DPS Foundation placed second in the overall rankings, with the Pinellas (Florida) Education Foundation placing first, and the Clark County (Nevada) Public Education Foundation ranked third.

Five of the top 10 foundations in the final rankings are in the state of Florida, and four in the top 20 are in Texas. The study utilized data from the Form 990s, the forms that non-profits use to report their financial information to the IRS.

The study’s analysis used data from the 2009-10 school year, the most recent that data for all foundations was available. The top 20 reflects the collective scoring for all eight performance categories that were considered, with those finishing in the top-20 of the most categories placing the highest in the overall ranking, “emphasizing the importance of being well-rounded,” according to a news release by Dewey & Associates.

The DPS Foundation finished first in two of the study’s eight categories, revenue per student ($93.43), and expense per student, (deducting salaries and benefits to reflect what goes to programs impacting teachers and students), $84.33. The DPS Foundation placed 17th in number of volunteers (87).

In the rankings, the DPS Foundation was third in total revenue for the 2009-10 school year, at just over $7.2 million. According to the DPS Foundation’s recent reporting to Education News Colorado, that figure jumped to slightly more than $9.9 million for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

“We’re honored and, honestly, we know we still have a long way to go to partner with DPS in their relentless pursuit of excellence,” said Foundation president Kristin Colon. “There are too many students, teachers and school leaders dealing with declining resources, and we know, at the DPS Foundation, we simply have to do more. And we hope an increasing number of folks will join us in doing so.”

Colorado continues to rank in the top 10 for scores on Advanced Placement exams, according to a report released this week by the College Board.

The 8th annual AP Report to the Nation says Colorado ranks 8th out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. for the percentage of the class of 2011 scoring a 3 or higher (qualifying score) on AP exams during high school. Further, Colorado has consistently ranked in the top 10 over the last five years, according to a press release from the state Department of Education.

Colorado highlights in the report:

  • The total number of 2011 graduates is 47,987, down from 48,329 from 2010.
  • The number of graduates who scored 3+ on an AP exam in high school also increased from 10,330 in 2010 to 10,692 or 22.3 percent.
  • On College Board’s AP equity and excellence for underserved students measure, Colorado scored at 49.5 percent. Hispanic/Latino students made up 22 percent of the class of 2011 and 10.9 percent of those students were successful AP exam takers scoring at qualifying score of 3 or higher.

Read the national report.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at [email protected]

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Memphis parent advocacy group trains first Spanish-speaking cohort

PHOTO: Caroline Bauman
Manuela Martinez (center left) and Lidia Sauceda (center right) are among 19 parents in the first Spanish-speaking class of Memphis Lift’s Public Advocate Fellowship.

Manuela Martinez doesn’t want Spanish-speaking families to get lost in the fast-changing education landscape in Memphis as the city’s Hispanic population continues to grow.

The mother of two students is among 19 parents in the first Spanish-speaking class of Memphis Lift’s Public Advocate Fellowship, a program that trains parents on local education issues.

“We want to be more informed,” said Martinez, whose children attend Shelby County Schools. “I didn’t know I had much of voice or could change things at my child’s school. But I’m learning a lot about schools in Memphis, and how I can be a bigger part.”

More than 200 Memphians have gone through the 10-week fellowship program since the parent advocacy group launched two years ago. The vast majority have been African-Americans.

The first Spanish-speaking cohort is completing a five-week program this month and marks a concerted effort to bridge racial barriers, said Sarah Carpenter, the organization’s executive director.

“Our mission is to make the powerless parent powerful …,” she said.

The city’s mostly black public schools have experienced a steady growth in Hispanic students since 1992 when only 286 attended the former Memphis City Schools. In 2015, the consolidated Shelby County Schools had 13,816 Hispanic children and teens, or 12.3 percent of the student population.

Lidia Sauceda came to Memphis from Mexico as a child; now she has two children who attend Shelby County Schools. Through Memphis Lift, she is learning about how to navigate Tennessee’s largest district in behalf of her family.

PHOTO: Caroline Bauman
Hispanic parents attend a training with the Memphis Lift fellowship program.

“Latinos are afraid of talking, of standing up,” Sauceda said. “They’re so afraid they’re not going to be heard because of their legal status. But I will recommend this (fellowship) to parents. How do we want our kids to have a better education if we can’t dedicate time?”

The training includes lessons on local school options, how to speak publicly at a school board meeting, and how to advocate for your children if you believe they are being treated unfairly.

The first fellowship was led by Ian Buchanan, former director of community partnership for the state-run Achievement School District. Now the program is taught in-house, and the Spanish-speaking class is being led this month by Carmelita Hernandez, an alumna.

“No matter what language we speak, we want a high-quality education for our kids just like any other parent,” Hernandez said. “A good education leads to better opportunities.”

Stopping summer slide

On National Summer Learning Day, Memphis takes stock of programs for kids

PHOTO: Helen Carefoot
Torrence Echols, a rising first-grader in Memphis, builds a tower with giant legos at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library on National Summer Learning Day.

When it comes to summer learning, it’s been a better year for Memphis, where a range of new programs have helped to stem learning loss that hits hard in communities with a high number of low-income students.

On Thursday, Mayor Jim Strickland celebrated that work in conjunction with National Summer Learning Day and against the backdrop of the children’s reading room of the city’s main library.

He estimated that 10,000 children and teens are being reached this summer through learning programs spearheaded through Shelby County Schools, Literacy Mid-South, Memphis Public Libraries, churches and nonprofit organizations across the community.

That’s a record-breaking number, Strickland says, in a city with a lot of students struggling to meet state and local reading targets.

Summer learning loss, also known as summer slide, is the tendency for students to lose some of the knowledge and skills they gained during the school year. It’s a large contributor to the achievement gap, since children from low-income families usually don’t get the same summer enrichment opportunities as their more affluent peers. Compounded year after year, the gap widens to the point that, by fifth grade, many students can be up to three years behind in math and reading.

But this summer for the first time, Shelby County Schools offered summer learning academies across the city for students most in need of intervention. And Memphis also received a slice of an $8.5 million state grant to provide summer literacy camps at nine Memphis schools through Tennessee’s Read to be Ready initiative.

Literacy Mid-South used Thursday’s event to encourage Memphians to “drop everything and read!”

The nonprofit, which is providing resources this summer through about 15 organizations in Greater Memphis, is challenging students to log 1,400 minutes of summertime reading, an amount that research shows can mitigate learning loss and even increase test scores.

Reading is a problem for many students in Memphis and across Tennessee. Less than a third of third-graders in Shelby County Schools read on grade level, and the district is working to boost that rate to 90 percent by 2025 under its Destination 2025 plan.

The city of Memphis, which does not fund local schools, has made Memphis Public Libraries the focal point of its education work. This summer, the library is offering programs on everything from STEM and robotics to art and test prep.

Parents are a critical component, helping their kids to take advantage of books, programs and services that counter the doldrums of summer learning.

Soon after the mayor left the Benjamin L. Hooks Library on Thursday, Tammy Echols arrived with her son, Torrence, a rising first-grader at Levi Elementary School. Echols said they visit regularly to read books and do computer and math games.

“We always do a lot of reading and we’re working on learning sight words,” Echols said as she watched her son build a tower out of giant Lego blocks. “Torrence is a learning child and it’s easy to forget what you just learned if you’re not constantly reinforcing.”

You can find summer learning resources for families from the National Summer Learning Association.