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News Release - Grants to Fund Educator Effectiveness

Dec. 1, 2010

News Release

Colorado Legacy Foundation Secures Nearly $2 million In Grants To Fund Educator Effectiveness

The Colorado Legacy Foundation has secured $1.9 million in grant funding to support efforts by the state and local school districts to improve educator effectiveness.

“For the first time, a new state law requires Colorado to identify what makes an effective teacher and principal,” said CLF Executive Director Helayne Jones. “It also requires that at least half of every public school teacher’s and principal’s evaluation is based on their students’ academic growth. The need for resources to assist this work is urgent, and we’re pleased to be able to bring those resources to the table.”

In total the grant funding secured by CLF comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($1.75 million); the JPMorgan Chase Foundation ($51,000); the Daniels Fund ($70,000); and the Donnell-Kay Foundation ($30,000).

The sizeable infusion of funds means that CLF is well positioned to offer substantial assistance to the Colorado Department of Education and to school districts to implement Senate Bill 10-191 (commonly referred to as the “Educator Effectiveness Bill” passed in May 2010), which requires CDE to develop a system to evaluate public school teachers and principals at least once each school year based in part on their students’ academic growth from year to year.

CDE’s efforts to implement the Educator Effectiveness Bill are strengthened by also rolling out new academic content standards and providing supports to educators in all public schools to teach to those standards. A portion of the funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant will be used to support that work as well.

“Colorado is leading the nation with bold education initiatives to help our children succeed in the classroom and the workforce,” said Gov. Bill Ritter. “I appreciate the support of national and local foundations to advance our efforts to ensure that all students are taught by the most effective teachers.

The focus of CLF’s educator effectiveness work is to help schools and school districts translate complex education policy into everyday practice. While the state sets goals for schools and school districts, CLF provides the practical help they need to implement state laws and achieve success.

“Robust public input that was part of the Race to the Top process helped pave the way for passage of S.B. 10-191,” said Lieutenant Gov. Barbara O’Brien. “Educator effectiveness will be one of the most critical levers for education improvement. We have to get this right.”

Improving educators’ effectiveness has been a priority for the Colorado Legacy Foundation, and implementing S.B. 10-191 complements previously initiated efforts by CLF to identify excellence in educational practices and share them with districts and educators statewide. (This work already underway is supported by a grant from Rose Community Foundation.)

The new $1.9 million grant funding secured by CLF will improve the support CDE must provide under a state statute requiring the department to create an online resource bank of tools school districts can use to evaluate teacher and principals.

“The approach to partner with the Colorado Legacy Foundation marks a new chapter for the Colorado Department of Education,” said Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones. “The availability of considerable resources from the foundation means that beyond setting rules based on state laws, the department can provide support and tools to schools and districts in a way we haven’t been able to do before.”

In addition, the grant funding will support the 15-member State Council for Educator Effectiveness formed by Gov. Bill Ritter. The council will recommend a new educator evaluation system in April 2010 to the Colorado State Board of Education. The funding will help members of the council proactively communicate with their constituents and the public about the Council’s work, next steps, issues that are under discussion and those that have been decided. See www.cde.state.co.us/EducatorEffectiveness for information.

The dollars also will finance the foundation’s current Associate Director for Educator Effectiveness Ulcca Joshi Hansen as well as consultants and two new CLF staff members dedicated exclusively to providing practical resources to CDE and local school districts to pilot the educator effectiveness law in the 2011-2012 school year.

To support the state council, the Colorado Legacy Foundation is lending Joshi Hansen to the council. Hansen recently joined the Colorado Legacy Foundation to work with Director of Educator Effectiveness Nina Lopez.

Nina Lopez

Lopez splits her time between the Colorado Legacy Foundation and CDE. She has served as special assistant to the Commissioner at CDE since May 2009 and currently is the Commissioner’s designated representative on the State Council for Educator Effectiveness. Lopez has worked in K-12 education policy since 2003, first as director of external affairs for the Colorado League of Charter Schools and later as Vice President of Policy and Operations for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. She has a B.A. in literature from Harvard-Radcliffe and a Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School.

Ulcca Joshi Hansen, Ph.D.

Ulcca Joshi Hansen is the Associate Director for Educator Effectiveness at the Colorado Legacy Foundation. She staffs the Technical Advisory Group to the State Council for Educator Effectiveness, helping to collect best practices and research for use by the Council in developing its recommendations for a statewide performance evaluation framework for teachers and principals.

Previously, she conducted research on teacher effectiveness as part of her work with Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston’s efforts to pass S.B. 10-191 and worked with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on developing standards and rubrics for effective schools. Hansen began her education career teaching third grade in Newark, NJ before joining the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation as a Program Fellow. She then served as a consultant to the Oxford University Department of Education and the British government, evaluating literacy and numeracy programs in prisons and researching turnaround strategies for failing urban schools.

Hansen has a B.A. in philosophy and German, and a certification in early childhood and elementary education from Drew University in New Jersey where she was awarded a Truman Scholarship. She completed her Ph.D. in education from Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School as a Soros Fellow.

About the Colorado Legacy Foundation

Inspired by CDE's Forward Thinking strategic plan, the Colorado Legacy Foundation was established in 2007 as a private nonprofit governed by an independent board of trustees that develops initiatives to support CDE's work. Its mission is to invest in promising strategies to improve public education. The privately funded nonprofit evaluates results, convenes education stakeholders and provides recommendations to schools for continuous improvement. Its unique partnership with CDE allows the foundation to advance innovation in public schools throughout the state. More: www.colegacy.org

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