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April 2018

The Spark. A newsletter filled with information and inspiration for Colorado teachers.

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Katy Anthes

Dear Educators,

Today I watched as thousands of teachers came to the Capitol from all over the state to advocate for increased investments in education. 

As legislators make their final decisions about K-12 funding and other important education issues, it was important for them to hear directly from you – the people who shape the world of tomorrow by developing our future scientists, public servants, business leaders and parents.

I truly believe teaching is the most noble and most important profession in the world, one that drives our citizenship, humanity and economic engine, and our priorities as a state should reflect the incredible contributions teachers make every day. 

As I think about the teachers I’ve had in my life, I can say emphatically that your guidance continues to influence and inspire us long after our school days are over. I can never thank my teachers – and all teachers -- enough, but because Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up soon, I want to try to express my gratitude here.

Thank you for not only helping students excel in all areas of academics, arts and health, but also teaching them to be good citizens.

Thank you for being good listeners, impartial judges, inquisitive explorers, optimistic motivators and sage mentors.

Thank you for helping students fulfill their dreams and imagine new possibilities that we cannot even fathom today.

You do so much with so little. Whenever I can, I try to share your stories about the students you serve with state leaders, so they can make good decisions on investing in public education. 

I also believe that money alone won’t solve our educational challenges. Students today come to school with increasing needs – needs that teachers shouldn’t be expected to meet without additional help. Whole communities, together with schools, must work together to support our students and teachers. Local governments, nonprofits, health care and mental health providers along with a variety of state agencies must work together with parents and educators to ensure all students in Colorado receive a high quality education.

Please know I appreciate the hard work you do day in and day out, and I am committed to supporting you and working collectively with partners to ensure every student has access to a high quality education.



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Stock photo of teacher and student to represent results of 2018 TLCC survey

Eighty-nine percent of Colorado educators believe their school is a good place to work and a beneficial place for students to learn, according to a statewide survey.

More than 35,000 school-based staff filled out the anonymous Teaching and Learning Conditions in Colorado, or TLCC, survey this spring -- more than half of the 68,000 educators in the state.

“We appreciate everyone who took the time to complete the survey, which gives us valuable information that we can dig into to help us better support teachers and improve education for all students,” said Katy Anthes, Colorado’s education commissioner. 

A large majority of educators responding to the survey said they are satisfied with instructional practices and support, as well as community support and involvement. In the categories that received the lowest favorable responses, only 57.9 percent of educators believed they have adequate time to prepare for instruction. The other lowest-rated categories on the TLCC survey were opportunities for professional development and new teacher training.

About 57 percent of elementary and middle school educators responded to the survey as well as 53 percent of high school educators. About 51 percent of all districts met or exceeded the response threshold required to receive an individual district-level report. Among all 1,870 surveyed schools, about 58 percent, or 1,100 schools, met or exceeded the basic response rate to receive their school-level reports.

All results can be viewed by categories and questions online at

This was the first distribution of the TLCC survey, which replaced the TELL Colorado survey. While many of the topics in the survey were similar to the past survey, the TLCC was newly constructed. The topics can be compared over time but CDE cautions comparing individual items between the two surveys. A tool that provides comparisons over time is being developed with researchers and should be released later this spring.

For more information and resources, visit the TLCC website. For questions, contact Lisa Medler, or 303-866-6993, or Lisa Steffen at or 303-866-6676.


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Image of keyboard to represent computer science education grant for teachers

Do you have an interest in computer science? If so, could you use some funding to help pay for training on how to teach computer science as well as books and materials?

Help is here! Grant funding is available to help teachers learn more about computer science. Districts may apply for the Computer Science Education (CSed) Grant to support professional development in computer science for their teachers.

It all became possible from 2016 legislation that sought to boost the state’s computer science literacy.

A portion of the grant already was awarded, but about $150,000 remains. This is an opportunity for districts or BOCES that did not submit an application, applied for less than the full $10,000 or that would just like to receive additional funding.

Teachers can write the grant proposal then obtain signatures from their principal and superintendent. The local education agencies (school districts, BOCES and the Charter School Institute) may then apply for funds on behalf of any K-12 public school teacher.

Awardees can use the money to pay for professional development tuition, books and resources. Teachers can fill out the grant application form and districts can apply on their behalf by Wednesday, May 9.

The CSed grant coincides with the creation of state standards for computer science. The state board approved these voluntary standards for secondary students at its April meeting. More information on the new computer standards can be found on the CAS review and revision homepage.

For questions, contact Christine Liebe, computer science content specialist, at or 303-866-6565.


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Educators Matter, #ThankATeacherCO

During Teacher Appreciation Week, CDE staff want to share our gratitude with teachers for their hard work and dedication every day in the classroom. Thank you for all you do and for nurturing Colorado’s children! We know that you spend a lot of your own money for classroom supplies, and many companies are also aware of this. To share their appreciation, companies are offering educator discounts.

To make it easy to take advantage of these offerings, we’ve put together a list of the deals and discounts on this webpage. Many offers require a school or district ID. For additional deals, visit or  Also, remember to check with your district for employee discount programs.


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Two apples representing Teacher of the Year applications

Though 2018 isn’t even half over, the state already has begun its search for the 2019 Teacher of the Year.

Each year, a public school teacher is chosen for the program to represent the entire profession in Colorado. The Colorado Teacher of the Year becomes Colorado’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year and gets many professional development opportunities, including a week at NASA’s Space Camp and a visit to a ceremony at the White House with other candidates for the National Teacher of the Year.

It all starts with a nomination. If you have an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled colleague, you can honor them by nominating them for the 2019 Colorado Teacher of the Year award. Nominations are due by June 1.

After a teacher is nominated, they are asked to fill out an application, which is due by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 11. To access the applications or to learn more about the program, visit the Teacher of the Year webpage.

The 2018 Teacher of the Year is Christina Randle, a first-grade teacher at Soaring Eagles Elementary School in Harrison School District No. 2. Learn more about Christina here. Or follow her on Facebook.


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College in Colorado logo with College Friday 2018 date

Dust off that old college T-shirt! On May 4, College Friday promotes the importance of continuing education after high school. People all over Colorado wear gear from their alma mater or favorite school to start a dialogue and encourage young people to reach higher. Here are some resources and ideas for you to celebrate College Friday:


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