The San Juan Board of Cooperative Educational Services school districts, including Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1, have been selected as partner districts in a program designed to address Colorados drop out and graduation rates, as well as teacher evaluation. The program is funded by a $9.7 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Colorado Legacy Foundation announced Wednesday that 13 school districts, including the nine San Juan BOCES districts, were selected to partner with the Colorado Department of Education to develop, support and recognize outstanding teachers by accelerating and integrating implementation of new educator performance evaluation systems and the Colorado Academic Standards using instructional tools aligned to those standards, according to a written statement from the legacy foundation.
The program was created in response to Senate Bill 10-191, which established a performance-based educator evaluation system statewide.
I am delighted that we as a BOCES were selected by the Colorado Legacy Foundation as partner districts, Re-1 Superintendent Stacy Houser stated in an email Thursday. This gives us a leg up in implementing SB 191, and it will allow us to develop a solid process for improving our educational systems. Our seeking to be a part of the initial development of evaluations and professional development was a real step of openness and courage.
Heather Fox, senior director for communications and development for the Colorado Legacy Foundation, said the three-year integration project will help develop a framework for meaningful teacher evaluation throughout the state.
The Colorado Integration Project is grant-funded work which seeks to develop, support and recognize quality teachers by accelerating and integrating the improvement of new education performance evaluation systems, Fox said in a phone interview Thursday. What that means is that this work will give teachers tools which will help them differentiate and customize instruction for students in their classrooms.
The participating districts are Archuleta, Bayfield, Dolores, Dolores County, Durango, Ignacio, Mancos, Montezuma-Cortez, Silverton, Centennial, Thompson and Eagle County school districts, as well as Denver Public Schools. Districts will serve as learning labs for the rest of the state, laying the groundwork for new evaluation and teaching tools, Fox said.
The districts will have the benefit of human resources and financial resources to help them do this work, she said. What they learn as a result of this process will be shared statewide, and that is what is so cool about having the San Juan BOCES districts participate. They are small districts, but they are reflective of a lot of districts in the state.
Fox said the regional districts were chosen for the project because of a strong commitment and readiness to improve student achievement and adhere to new standards.
A lot of thought was put into making sure this group is representative of the size, geography and student demographics of Colorado, Fox said.
San Juan BOCES Executive Director Randy Boyer said the groups selection is validation that there is success in each of the districts and the program provides an opportunity for the districts to remain on the cutting edge of new requirements and legislation.
This is an opportunity for all of our districts to connect the dots with all these legislative requirements that are coming out of (the department of education), Boyer said. What the legacy project is going to give us is the support and connectivity to pull this stuff together and improve student achievement.
Boyer also said there is strength in numbers and with the understanding that the work accomplished in the nine districts over the next three years will be examined on the state and national level, there is comfort in knowing all the districts will work together.
We are going to have people who really know what they are doing pulling all our threads of success together, Boyer said. This is not just Montezuma-Cortez or Durango or Silverton. We are all sticking our necks out together, and it is reassuring that the support is tremendous and we are not going at this solo.
Each of the districts will receive funding to cover the cost of a full-time project manager, data coaching for teachers and costs for local evaluation committees and professional learning communities.
The final result of the project will mean better education in the classroom, Houser said.
Ultimately it will mean that we as educators are becoming better at what we do, Houser said. Were helping students become more successful in their learning and in their lives.
Reach Kimberly Benedict at email@example.com.