Teacher issues called impediments in ‘Race to the Top’ for Colorado

Colorado’s disappointing finish in the “Race to the Top” for millions of federal dollars reflected its inability to deal with issues such as teacher evaluations and rewarding teachers for high performance.

The result illustrates the difficulties faced by education in Colorado, Tim Taylor of Colorado Succeeds, a business organization, told Club 20 on Saturday at Two Rivers Convention Center.

“Colorado does have an education crisis,” Taylor said.

One part of the crisis is the dropout rate that resulted in 16,600 Colorado students failing to graduate in 2008, Taylor said. Those students stand to lose a collective $4.3 billion in lifetime earnings, Taylor said.

It was telling that Colorado with its dropout rate was considering dropping out of the second round of the Race to the Top competition, Taylor said.

Legislation to be introduced Monday by state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, is aimed at connecting student performance and teacher evaluations, teacher tenure, principal performance and other factors, Taylor said.

The bill is intended to address the shortcomings revealed by the state’s performance in the Race to the Top contest, Taylor said.

“We’ve got to bring accountability to our education system,” he said. “It’s not that these kids can’t learn. These are excuses, and we can’t take excuses anymore.”

Supporters of the Johnston bill can sign a petition to the Legislature at http://www.bizcares.org, Taylor said.

Colorado, meanwhile, is revising its content standards and is preparing for the end of the current school-assessment program.

Once a new system with open-ended questions is introduced, “I suspect we’ll become slightly nostalgic for the simplistic CSAP,” Deputy Colorado Commissioner of Education Jo O’Brien said.

The state is in a good position with its standards to take part in establishment of national core standards, O’Brien said.

“We have an opportunity in being able to discuss what students should know in the 21st century,” she said.


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