Governor announces increased support for Integration districts
Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia recently announced a $5.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the Colorado Legacy Foundation's Colorado Integration Project.
Thompson School District is one of 13 school districts leading the statewide implementation of new educator performance evaluation systems and Colorado Academic Standards. The 13 districts are Thompson, Denver Public Schools, Centennial School District, Eagle County Schools and San Juan BOCES, which includes nine school districts in the southwest corner of the state.
The Colorado Integration Project participants are geographically and demographically representative school districts who serve as pilots for the reforms being led statewide by the Colorado Department of Education. The project uses an integrated model of teaching and learning designed to significantly improve the number and rate of students who graduate from Colorado high schools college- and career-ready. A Gates Foundation grant also supported the initial work.
The new grant came after Bill and Melinda Gates met with representatives from the project in October. "This is a great testament to the work going on in our school districts," Hickenlooper said during his presentation at the state capitol on Nov. 19. "The challenge is to make every school better by finding instances of excellence and making them pervasive throughout the state." He said the collaborative work between the CDE, the Colorado Legacy Foundation and the pilot districts is showing results.
Dr. Helayne Jones, president and CEO of the Colorado Legacy Foundation, said that the goal of the extensive work "is to have effective teachers in every classroom, engaged students in every classroom, and leadership from the communities, superintendents, teachers and students all working together as partners in the best interest of kids."
A principal, teacher and student from the San Luis Valley praised the efforts of the Integration project. "This is what small rural schools have needed – a shift from delivery of content to the teacher being more of a facilitator," said Teacher Robert Quintana.
Hickenlooper said he sees two major goals of the project that could boost Colorado to the forefront of educational change. The first is to bring new practices and innovation that create meaningful results. The second is that when teachers find success, there will be a way to scale it and provide access to every school district and student in the state.
Colorado is working with a cohort of other states, including Kentucky and Louisiana, to integrate teacher evaluation and support with the implementation of new academic standards and instruction support. Both the Colorado Legacy Foundation and CDE are committed to working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to share the products and learning from the Integration grant with other states and districts across the nation.
Colorado Legacy Foundation will work in close partnership with Colorado Children's Campaign to engage communities throughout Colorado with the importance of CDE's plan. To learn more about the Colorado Integration Project, visit www.colegacy.org.