Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More Innovation Out of Denver Public Schools

The DPS board, on a split vote, and the State Board of Education, on a unanimous vote, approved the three Innovation Schools requests for far northeast Denver schools. The three schools include the Denver Center for International Studies at Ford, the Denver Center for International Studies at Montbello and the Noel Community Arts School.

The far northeast area of Denver, which includes the city of Montbello, has historically had the lowest performing schools. But with the new reform effort in DPS and the district's commitment that ALL students should have access to high quality educational options, a few--mostly from the teacher's union--are complaining.

Many of the schools in the far northeast region are Title I, serving students of poverty, and the ethnic minority rate is very high in that region. We won't even mention the drop-out rate.

So the district's plan includes changing things up to make sure student's needs are being met. This may include change in administrative leadership and/or a change in the teaching staff. The focus of all change is on whether or not the change will result in increased student academic achievement. There will be greater accountability to ensure student success.

Still not getting why some people would disagree with this focus on student achievement? It's because the teacher's union doesn't want to give up any territory it's earned through the collective bargaining agreement with DPS. Henry Roman, the union's president, says they'll be suing the district over these three Innovation School plans.

The Innovation Schools Act was adopted in 2008 as a way for district's to operate unique schools by obtaining waiver from district policies, the collective bargaining agreement and state law. Innovation Schools are still under the auspices of the district. DPS already operates several Innovation Schools.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another Acquisition for K12, Inc.

K12, Inc. has acquired Kaplan Virtual Education. In Colorado K12 contracts with Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA) and several school districts operating their own virtual schools using either K12 or Aventa Curriculum. K12 purchased Aventa last year.

Several months ago Kaplan acquired Insight Schools. In that acquisition, the Insight School of Julesburg, CO became a Kaplan school. Now all Kaplan credit-bearing K-12 assets have been purchased by K12, Inc.
"We're excited to add Kaplan's K-12 education programs to K12 Inc.'s portfolio of high quality products, innovative online learning offerings, and successful school partnerships," said Ron Packard, founder and CEO of K12 Inc. "This is another step in our mission to provide high quality online education to as many students as possible. We are very pleased to be able to serve the students, parents, and teachers associated with the Kaplan and Insight schools."
K12 operates online schools in 27 states. The parent satisfaction rate of K12 students tops 90% with parents agreeing their child has benefited academically from the K12 education.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Georgia's Courts Shoot Down State Charter School Authorizer While Indiana Starts a New State Authorizer

Georgia's Supreme Court ruled the state's chartering authority is unconstitional, leaving nine previously authorized charter schools in limbo. Much like Colorado, Georgia allowed certain charter school applicants to get a state charter. Colorado's Supreme Court ruled the state Charter School Institute (CSI) was constitutional, upholding the 2005 Charter School Institute statute.

While Georgia is shutting down its state authorizer, Indiana is starting a new one. The Indiana State Superintendent just named an Executive Director for the new charter school board. This is after the Indiana General Assembly passed a law creating a statewide charter school authorizer.

State with multiple charter school authorizers are viewed as being more choice-friendly by allowing multiple options for charter school applicants to get new schools approved. In addition to local districts and state authorizers, some states permit nonprofit organizations, municipalities and institutions of higher education to charter.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Michael Horn on GOAL Academy

Last weekend Michael Horn, one of the authors of Disrupting Class, gave the commencement address at GOAL Academy's graduation in Pueblo's Event Center. Mr. Horn also wrote about it in Forbes this week.

Mr. Horn described the graduating seniors as:
To give a feel for the students that this Colorado public high school serves, of the 176 students graduating, 12 were over 21 years in age, 33 were parents, and a few were serving in the military. Ninety-five of the graduates said they planned to attend a 2-year or 4-year college, and 23 had earned college credit while at the GOAL Academy.
GOAL Academy uses Pearson's NovaNet to deliver its digital curriculum. GOAL students are located all across the state. The school offers "drop in centers" in major cities where students can drop in during office hours to meet with a teacher. GOAL is finishing its second year of operation and is authorized by the state Charter School Institute.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kristin Kipp Honored by State Board of Ed

Kristin Kipp, Online Teacher of the Year for both Colorado and nationally, was recognized by the State Board of Education at this morning's meeting. Left to right in the photo: Commissioner Robert Hammond; Kristin Kipp; Judy Baurenschmidt, Principal of Jeffco Online and Elaine Gantz Berman, State Board of Education, District 1.

Friday, May 6, 2011

National Online Teacher of the Year From Colorado

Kristin Kipp was recognized by the State Board of Education last year for being one of two Colorado Online Teacher of the Year. Now the 21st Century Virtual Academy (Jeffco) teacher is the National Online Teacher of the Year and will be recognized by the State Board again next Wednesday at their monthly meeting.

Kristin Kipp recently spent a day at the U.S. Department of Education shadowing the Director of the office of Educational Technology. In her blog, she talks about the unique discussions she was a part of during her day at ED. For example, "teacher heavy" programs that rely more heavily upon the teacher's role over the technology-based curriculum.

Congratulations to Kristin Kipp!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Robert Hammond Named Sole Finalist for Commissioner of Education

This afternoon in a unanimous vote, the Colorado Board of Education voted to name acting-Commissioner, Robert Hammond, as the sole finalist for the Commissioner's position. Hammond has been acting as Commissioner since December 2010 when former Commissioner Dwight Jones left to be the Superintendent for the Las Vegas School District.

Hammond has been at the CO Dept of Education for three years where he served as Deputy Commissioner before being named the Acting Commissioner. According to statutes regulating the hiring of public officials, the State Board is expected to name Hammond as Commissioner when it meets next Wednesday for its regular monthly meeting.