In This Issue
Vol. 8 No. 1
Staff assistance and resources for the Commission will be provided by the Office of Community Relations
Interested parents and other community members should submit brief letters of interest along with a brief history of their involvement in the schools and / or community to the Denver Public Schools Office of Community Relations, Room 400, 900 Grant Street, Denver, C0 80203.
Please submit letters by Friday, August 23. The school board and the association plan to announce the final 12-member CDM Commission on Thursday, September 5.
The Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) teams were first organized in 1991 as a way to bring more authority to individual school communities.
The school board and the association agreed during contract talks that it is time to review many fundamental questions about the role and function of Collaborative Decision-Making teams in Denver today.
Among the questions being given to the new Commission are:
The Committee will convene in September. It will be co-chaired by one (1) teacher and one (1) administrator selected by the Committee. It is recommended that the Commission use an Interest Based Problem Solving Model in addressing the above issues.
The Commission will make frequent reports to the Board and the Representative Council of the Association.
The Commission is expected to report their findings and recommendations to the above by the end of the first semester of the 2002-2003 school year.
Denver students this year posted better scores than students a year ago according to results released last week under the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP).
Among 18 tests where comparisons from the previous year are available, students who took the test in March of 2002 fared better on 13 tests over students who took the test in March of 2001.
Of particular note were improved scores on eighth-, ninth-, and tenth-grade reading tests. Third-grade and sixth-grade reading scores were also somewhat improved over scores posted by the previous year's classes.
In addition, scores on fourth-grade writing, fifth-grade math, seventh-grade writing, eighth-grade science, tenth-grade writing, and tenth-grade math showed progress from 2001 to 2002. Progress was also noted on fourth-grade Lectura and Escritura (a Spanish-language alternative of the reading and writing exam given to eligible Spanish-speaking students in third and fourth grade only). Because small numbers of students are given Lectura and Escritura, the DPS Department of Assessment and Testing cautions against reading too much into trends up or down on these tests.
"We know there is still a long way to go and lots of hard work to be done," said Superintendent Jerry Wartgow, "but these scores establish a positive trend. Students, teachers, parents and staff all need to be thanked for their hard work and dedication. We know this community is taking the district's goals seriously - raising expectations, improving the performance of all students and closing the gap between better and poorer-performing students. Now, we need to bear down even harder and organize our instruction in a way that addresses the many areas where students are not yet performing at acceptable levels. Improving these scores will take sustained, focused effort. That is why we are instituting a new literacy program for the elementary grades and mandating concentrated work on literacy skills for students in the secondary grades who are not yet reading on grade level. This work is beginning immediately with the new school year."
For complete CSAP information visit us on the web at testing.dpsk12.org/csapjuly02.htm.
During a retreat this week, the Board of Education took a look at the variety of grade level configurations with the district, discussed the advantages and possible impacts on student achievement, and agreed that multiple models will continue for the foreseeable future.
At the same time, the Board asked district staff to develop more consistency in the existing middle school model, where the vast majority of the district's sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students are served.
In summing up the discussion, Board President Elaine Gantz Berman said that "deviations from the basic grade organizations (K-5, 6-8, 9-12) would be allowed but within more specific criteria developed by the staff."
Superintendent Jerry Wartgow echoed the need for focus, "We need to make sure what is taught in the sixth grade or any grade is of high quality and it's consistent across the district, no matter if that grade is in a middle school or an elementary school," he said.
In addition, the Board asked staff to draft proposed revisions to existing policies that govern how schools may request changes to their grade level organization. The Board asked that the policies deal more directly with general principles and less with the step-by-step procedures for how such proposals are developed, forwarded to the Board, and considered.
Board member Sue Edwards said the issue isn't necessarily the variety of grade configurations, but the quality of instruction taking place. "The key question," she said, "is how can we do a better job of meeting the needs of kids in this age range?"
Board member Lucia Guzman urged that opportunities to expand elementary schools to K-6 configurations or K-8 configurations be made equally to all sections of the city. And Board member Kevin Patterson cautioned that, too often, decisions on grade level organization are made due to space demands, "not educational needs."
If you're thinking about starting a new charter school to start with the 2003-2004 or 2004-2005 school years, a proposed timetable for all applicants was given to the Board of Education this week.
The proposed timeline follows:
If necessary, the Board of Education and the charter school applicants may agree to extend the timeline for acting upon applications.
The 2004-2005 schedule is designed to finish the charter school approval process prior to the Board of Education elections in November 2004. That year, the application process would begin with a July 15 optional deadline to receive an initial review by district staff and August 20 deadline for the Board of Education's formal consideration. On October 16, 2004 the Board would approve or deny all charter applicants.
"I'm glad to see this change," said Board member James Mejia, who suggested nearly two years ago that the charter school decision process be completed before a new board is seated.
Comments on the proposed timelines are welcome prior to final approval by the Board.
In other decisions this week, the Board of Education:
The Board of Education this week approved seven new principal appointments:
Denver Public School
Board of Education
Elaine Gantz Berman, President
Lucia Guzman, Vice President
Sue Edwards, Secretary
Kevin Patterson, Treasurer
Michelle Moss, Board Member
James Mejia, Board Member at Large
Les Woodward, Board Member at Large
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