Rise & Shine: Fort Collins students Skype with an astronaut who’s also an alum

Good morning.

To measure quality, Colorado rates schools largely based on how students score on tests. That, by itself, is controversial. But there's also a debate about how best to interpret those test scores. Should schools be rated on how many of their students score on grade-level, an outcome that is often correlated to family income? Or should the rating be based on a measure of how much academic progress students made?

The state's current rating system more heavily weights academic progress, which Colorado officials have considered a better gauge of teaching and learning. But that could change, as Erica Meltzer reports in today's top story.

Also in our roundup: Chalkbeat is taking a closer look at recently released state test scores with a series of databases meant to provide an indication of how well schools are serving different groups of students. Up first is a database that shows how much academic progress students from low-income families are making at schools across Colorado – and whether or not there's a gap between their progress and that of their classmates from higher-income families.

– Melanie Asmar, reporter

SCHOOL RATINGS Colorado’s State Board of Education members are calling for a change in the school ratings formula that would put more weight on whether or not students are meeting grade-level expectations on state tests – and less on whether students are showing academic progress. Chalkbeat

DATABASE Look up academic growth scores at your Colorado school for students from low-income families, and students from middle- and upper-income families. The database allows you to see gaps within a single school, and also to compare different schools side-by-side. Chalkbeat

NEW STRATEGY The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the biggest philanthropic funder of education in the country, has made four grants in recent months focused on helping charter schools better serve students with disabilities. Chalkbeat

SKYPING FROM SPACE About 400 Poudre High School students packed into the school auditorium to Skype with Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor, an alum who became an astronaut and is currently in orbit on the International Space Station. KUNC

ON SITE Two Pueblo high schools now have on-site admissions offices for Colorado State University – Pueblo that are meant to help students better navigate the path to college. Chieftain

OPINION The editorial board of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel weighs in on the state’s mission to get 66 percent of the working population to have earned a post-secondary certificate or degree by 2025. Currently, 56 percent meet that criteria. Daily Sentinel

ART ALL AROUND At Cheltenham Elementary in Denver’s West Colfax neighborhood, artists from around the world are painting murals on the school’s walls. 9News

HEALTHY FOOD Another citizen-led ballot initiative in Denver is seeking to increase sales taxes, this time to provide healthier meals and food education for children. Denverite

MEDICAL MARIJUANA Thanks to a law change, fourth-grader Quintin Lovato can now take his cannabis oil at school. He uses it to control his epilepsy and Tourette’s Syndrome, and his mother and teachers say it’s made a big difference. Fox31

IN SUPPORT The school board of the Poudre School District in Fort Collins passed a resolution in support of Amendment 73, a proposed statewide tax increase that would raise $1.6 billion for schools. Coloradoan

FIELD TRIP About 50 second-graders from Boulder’s Heatherwood Elementary harvested radishes and fed chickens on Wednesday as they toured a local farm. The visit was one of several funded through a $224,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. Daily Camera