Colorado

Briefs: State grad rates released

Colorado’s high school graduation rate of 74 percent puts it in the lower third of states nationally, according to statistics just released by the U.S. Department of Education.

Thirty-four states reported higher graduation rates than Colorado, which was tied with South Carolina. Among neighboring states, only New Mexico, at 63 percent, reported a lower rate than Colorado.

The department released the 2010-11 statistics on Monday, explaining that was “the first year for which all states used a common, rigorous measure” of four-year graduation rates. Variations in previous counting and reporting methods didn’t allow for accurate comparisons among states, a DOE news release said.

The new counting method was required by 2008 federal regulations, but 2010-11 was the first year compiled. The department said the rates, as reported by states, are preliminary and that final rates will be released later.

Colorado officials reported the state’s rate earlier this year (see news release and find more state graduation data here).

Here are the rates reported for Colorado as broken down by demographic groups:

  • American Indian – 52 percent
  • Asian/Pacific Islander – 81 percent
  • Black – 65 percent
  • Hispanic – 60 percent
  • White non-Hispanic – 81 percent
  • Children with disabilities – 53 percent
  • Limited English proficiency – 53 percent
  • Economically disadvantaged – 62 percent

Officials at the Colorado Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The state with the highest reported graduation rate was Iowa, at 88 percent. The District of Columbia reported the lowest rate, 59 percent, while the Bureau of Indian Education reported 61 percent. Data was not reported for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Puerto Rico.

Read the DOE news release and see the state-by-state table.

→ The Mapleton and St. Vrain Valley districts have been named finalists in the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top district competition, which is offering winning districts a share of $400 million in grants that are intended to be used for personalized learning programs that will improve student achievement and educator effectiveness and close achievement gaps.

The 61 finalists nationwide represent more than 200 school districts and were chosen from 372 initial applications representing more than 1,100 districts. Smaller districts were allowed to apply in groups. More than 30 Colorado school districts applied.

The unsuccessful Colorado applicants included Adams 12-Five Star, the Brush district on behalf of itself and three other districts, the Center district and 13 others, Denver Public Schools, Durango schools with four other districts, Harrison, Poudre and Pueblo City.

The department expects to select 15-25 winners for grants ranging from $5 million to $40 million, depending on district enrollments, and to announce those by Dec. 31. See list of finalists and full list of applicants.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.