District 51 Vision school OK’d for 3 more years

The Colorado Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to expand the life of a local home-schooling program by at least another three years.

The board had to approve 15 waivers that were needed to open the Mesa Valley Vision Home and Community Program in School District 51 in 2008. The waivers included granting the program administrator some duties relegated to principals in traditional schools, and allowing the program board instead of the District 51 school board to approve teacher contracts.

The waivers need to be renewed every three years, an action taken by the state board Wednesday.

Nearly 300 students are enrolled in the Valley Vision program, which allows students to receive a home-based education but get curriculum guidance and additional help from program employees.

“It is one of the many academic options available to students in Mesa County, and we know that not all students are successful in traditional programs and traditional schools,” District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said. “(Vision) provides a unique approach, a successful approach, to learning.”

Also Wednesday, the state board reviewed recommendations for evaluating educator effectiveness. Senate Bill 191, which was approved last year, created a council responsible for creating teacher and principal evaluation guidelines for a new Colorado evaluation system that will determine whether educators get or retain nonprobationary status, which is similar to tenure.

The council recommended a teacher’s effectiveness be evaluated based on content knowledge, leadership skills, fostering a quality and diverse learning environment, professional growth and student growth as measured by Colorado Student Assessment Program testing and assessments in non-CSAP subjects.

The council suggested principal effectiveness should be determined by how well a principal demonstrates instructional and strategic leadership, fosters equity and a comfortable school culture in a building, leads staff, manages the school, engages with the community and parents, and takes responsibility for student growth in school performance as measured by the Colorado Department of Education.

The board will use the recommendations to help form its own list of evaluation rules by Sept. 1, then pass those suggested rules on to the state Legislature by Feb. 15, when they will be placed in a bill for final adoption.

If approved by the Legislature, the evaluation system will be adopted statewide in fall 2014.


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