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News Release - State Board Approves Innovation Status for Three Denver Schools

May 12, 2011

News Release

State Board Of Education Approves Innovation Status For Three Denver Schools; Begins Discussion On Proposed Rules For Educator Effectiveness System

The Colorado State Board of Education this week unanimously approved Innovation Schools Act applications for three Denver schools—the Denver Center for International Studies at Montbello, the Denver Center for International Studies at Ford and Noel Community Arts School—bringing to 10 the number of schools in Denver Public Schools that have been granted innovation status under state law. The Innovation Schools Act (2008) provides a means for schools and districts to gain waivers from state laws, district-level policies and collective bargaining agreements.

The innovation act requires that the applications from schools include evidence of support from the faculty of the school applying but, in the case of new schools, CDE Associate Commissioner Richard Wenning recommended that the spirit of the law stood for innovation without restriction to existing schools. State board members concurred.

Educator Effectiveness—Rulemaking Process

The state board dedicated a significant amount of time both Wednesday (May 11) and Thursday (May 12) discussing and preparing for the process of adopting rules required by Senate Bill 10-191, the legislation that set in motion the development of the state’s work on improving educator effectiveness. The study session commences a seven-month rulemaking calendar during which time the board will provide opportunities for public input.

During its study session on Thursday, the board welcomed input on from a number of speakers, including representatives from Stand for Children, Colorado Succeeds, Education Reform Now, Colorado Association of School Boards and the general public. Most speakers lauded the work of the State Council for Educator Effectiveness (SCEE), which forwarded recommendations to the state board last month after more than a year of work and study, while also making suggestions on how to approach these recommendations.

Board member Angelika Schroeder thanked speakers for their comments and for the “really thoughtful conversations among you around the state” in preparing feedback. She asked for position papers and specific education-related examples to support their positions.

Board vice chair Marcia Neal thanked speakers for their testimony, too. “This really clarifies things for me,” she said.

The board and CDE staff also spent time detailing specific questions and topics for further discussion from the SCEE recommendations. The state board is due to receive a first draft or proposed rules at its June 8 meeting. More information about the anticipated timeline for the rule approval process:

A copy of the news release about the recommendations is here:

Teacher Recognitions
The board also took time to recognize the contributions of two teachers: National Online Teacher of the Year Kristin Kipp and CDE’s Language, Culture and Equity Teacher of the Year Carol Pollard.

Kipp is a teacher with the 21st Century Virtual Academy (Jeffco Public Schools) and was selected by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning from among 65 nominations from 25 states. She was named Colorado’s Online Secondary Teacher of the Year in November 2010.

Pollard, an English language development coordinator in Harrison School District 2, was recognized for her work in increasing academic growth with English learners across the district—growth which outpaced the state’s average. A mentor for English language development coordinators in the Pikes Peak region, Pollard received her award last month at CDE’s Language, Culture and Equity Academy.

Board Chairman Bob Schaffer lauded Kipp and Pollard and thanked each for being a “strong ambassador for the state.”

Native American Roundtables
The state board was briefed on a series of Native American Roundtables held in Denver and southwest Colorado focusing on the academic needs of Native American students. Barbara Medina, assistant commissioner of the Office of Language, Culture and Equity, said the roundtable discussions coordinate and collaborate on best practices to support academic access and achievement for Native American students.

Medina and Becky Smith, one of CDE’s Targeted District Support managers, described the urgent need for collaboration and increased support in light of performance data for the 9,500 Native American students, most of whom live in the Denver Metro area or southwest Colorado. Overall achievement levels are lower for Native American students than the state averages for all populations. In addition, dropout rates are higher and graduation rates are lower than state averages.

Medina told the board that the roundtables are seen as a way to engage a variety of interested parties, including local school districts, the lieutenant governor’s office and the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs. The effort is supported by a cross-unit team from the department, including Language, Culture and Equity, Special Education, Dropout Prevention, 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Targeted District Improvement Partnerships.

School Leadership Academy Board
Deputy Commissioner Diana Sirko presented an update on the work to date of the School Leadership Academy Board, created under House Bill 08‐1386. The legislation’s intent is to create a School Leadership Academy – a statewide, comprehensive leadership and professional development system that identifies, recruits, trains and inducts qualified persons for leadership positions in public schools.

Sirko told the state board that, before the new leadership academy could be launched, a comprehensive review and revision of Colorado’s current principal standards was necessary to ensure that the academy’s curriculum and vision would be rigorous and comprehensive.

Senate Bill 10-191 was passed at the same time that the SLA Board was revising principal standards, establishing new requirements for evaluating teachers and principals. The SLA Board and the State Council on Educator Effectiveness worked closely together to coordinate the standards revision and to design rubrics for evaluating leader performance.

Following adoption by the state board, the new standards will serve as the foundation for the Colorado School Leadership Academy. More information:

State Literacy Plan
The board also heard an overview of the department’s work on State Comprehensive Literacy Plan, including an application for a formula grant from the U.S. Department of Education called Striving Readers. The Striving Readers grant program will provide funds to each state to develop a comprehensive literacy plan to guide state literacy efforts and provide a foundation for a competitive Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant. More than meeting the requirements of the Striving Readers literacy grant, CDE is invested in building on the foundation of the Colorado Literacy Framework ( and the Colorado reading, writing and communicating standards in order to provide a roadmap for literacy achievement for all Colorado students. More information:

Environmental Education Plan
Pursuant to House Bill 10-1131, CDE in consultation with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is developing a State Environmental Education Plan. Melissa Colsman, director of the Office of Teaching and Learning, said that the plan is intended to address strengthening the reach and coordination of environmental education programs in public schools and providing professional development for teachers. The plan spells out academic standards connected to environmental education across grade levels and subjects including science, geography and social studies. Still under development, the plan is expected to be finalized sometime in 2012. More information:

In Other Action
The Colorado State Board of Education also:

  • Approved rules governing standards for Individual Career and Academic Plans (ICAP) based on House Bill 10-1273.
  • Took action on disciplinary proceedings concerning a license, Charge No. 2010EC15.
  • Took action on disciplinary proceedings concerning a license, Charge No. 2010EC23.
  • Took action disciplinary proceedings concerning a license, Charge No. 2010EC03.
  • Took action on disciplinary proceedings concerning a license, Charge No. 2010EC04.
  • Took action on disciplinary proceedings concerning an authorization, Charge No. 2011EC05.
  • Approved requests for approval of initial emergency authorizations (monthly total, 3).
  • Approved a waiver request from certain statutes by Boulder Valley School District RE-2 on behalf of Boulder Preparatory High School.
  • Reappointed a candidate for a position representing rural superintendents to the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Board.
  • Approved the certification of the Online Multi-District Program for Falcon Virtual Academy, Falcon 49 School District.

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