Colorado

Daily Churn: Grad rates inch up

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

It’s sometimes hard to see change looking at year-to-year education data, and a longer view can show a different picture.

Colorado’s high school graduation rates rose to 76.4 percent in 2009 from 67.5 percent in 1999, according to calculations in the 2012 version of the Diplomas Count report by Education Week.

The study shows Colorado slightly ahead of the national rate for every year in the 10-year period. For 2009 the national rate was 73.4 percent, and Colorado ranked 18th in the nation. See the state report here, along with an explanation of how the study calculates graduation rates.

Each year’s Diplomas Count has a special focus, and the 2012 version examines Hispanic students.

“Nationwide improvements were driven, in large part, by impressive gains among Latino students,” the report noted.

“Because the Latino graduation rate, at 63 percent, lags substantially behind the U.S. average, this group makes up a disproportionate number of the students who do not finish high school. Of the 1.1 million members of the class of 2012 that we project will fail to graduate with a diploma, about 310,000 (or 27 percent) will be Latinos. Two states — California and Texas — will produce half the nation’s Hispanic dropouts.”

Hispanics make up 28.4 percent of Colorado school enrollment, compared to 21.5 percent nationwide.

Get links to more report documents here. There’s also a clickable map that allows you to drill down for individual school district information.

University of Northern Colorado trustees on Friday approved tuition rates for the 2012-13 academic year. Tuition for resident undergraduates enrolled in 13-16 credit hours will rise by 3 percent, or $164, to $5,464 for the year. As many state college do, UNC will use some of the additional revenue for financial aid, and Institutional financial aid for undergrads will also increase by $4.5 million. About 85 percent of UNC undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. Room and board rates will rise by 3 percent, and fees by 2 percent. More information

The trustees also had a discussion of Metro State’s recent decision to create a special class of tuition for undocumented students (see story). “The consensus was to continue keeping an eye on it,” said UNC spokesman Nate Haas.

Citizens for Jeffco Schools, the group supporting the proposed tax overrides and bond issue, wasted no time in launching its campaign Friday. The district school board acted the night before to put the measures on the November ballot. Watch video of the launch event here.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday signed the last bills from the 2012 legislature, including two education measures. One allows resident tuition for military dependents and the other requires parent consent for students to fill out school surveys. The governor didn’t veto any education bills this year. Refresh your memory about legislative action on education with our Education Bill Tracker.

What’s on tap:

WEDNESDAY

The State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education meets starting at 8:30 a.m. at the system offices, 9101 East Lowry Blvd. Agenda

The State Board of Education meets starting at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 201 E. Colfax Ave. Up for consideration are several innovation schools applications from the Falcon school district. Agenda

THURSDAY

The Denver board will hold a special public comment meeting at 5 p.m. at district headquarters.

The Jefferson County board has a special meeting scheduled. Time not yet announced.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Tough love: Tennessee plans to convert 10 failing Nashville schools into charter schools that will serve about 5,000 students by 2020. The switchover is being overseen by the Tennessee Achievement School District, created as part of Tennessee’s response to the federal Race to the Top initiative, which authorizes charter schools and also directly runs low-performing schools. The Tennessean has the story.

What postsecondary means: There’s a lot of chatter these days about just what “postsecondary” means. Critics say reformers are just trying to push every kid into a four-year college. But what kids do after high school is more nuanced than that, and certificates are the fastest-growing form of postsecondary credentials in the nation, surpassing associate and master’s degrees as the second most common award in higher education after the B.A. The Chronicle of Higher Education has the details on a new study.

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

defensor escolar

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.