March 2015 – Additional Information

Professional Learning | Health and Wellness | Next Generation Learning | Colorado Legacy Schools | STEM

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New Research Examines Colorado Trends
Putting the Pieces Together
Update! Accelerator Project Request for Interest
Navigating Change: Maximizing the Power of Conversation

New Research Examines Colorado Trends in Teacher Placement and Student Access to College

New research from the Strategic Data Project (SDP) at Harvard University shows that low-income and minority students in Colorado have less access to effective and experienced teachers and that they face greater obstacles enrolling in and completing college than their white and more affluent peers. The findings help inform Colorado’s work on supporting success for all students and teachers.

Learn more about the SDP findings in these publications:

Putting the Pieces Together: Educators on the New Evaluation System, Assessments, and Standards

In partnership with the Colorado Department of Education, The Colorado Education Initiative has published three briefs highlighting the perceptions of educators in 26 school districts about the new assessments, standards, and evaluation system. Click on the links below to find out what educators had to say:

Update! Accelerator Project Request for Interest

The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) launched its new Accelerator Project with six Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), nine school districts, and one charter network.

The Accelerator Project supports teachers and district leaders as they implement the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), design new professional learning structures, and use data to inform instruction and decision-making. In addition to support from CEI and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), the project creates space and time for districts to learn and collaborate with colleagues in three practice networks:

  • Practice Network I: Shifting Instructional Practice and Implementing Colorado Academic Standards. CEI will provide Literacy Design Collaborative and Math Design Collaborative implementation and support as well as engage in joint work with CDE’s District Sample Curriculum Project.
  • Practice Network II: Using Data to Inform System Change. CDE and CEI will leverage a data fellows cohort, explore Measures of Student Learning solution-building, and build assessment literacy to create more responsive systems.
  • Practice Network III: Reallocating Resources and Redesigning Professional Development Systems. CEI will provide technical assistance and exploratory planning to help districts design teacher-centered professional learning environments, including funds to support success.

This 12-month project meets districts and BOCES where they are and offers strategies and resources to help them achieve their goals. It also builds on the success of CEI’s integration districts.

Navigating Change: Maximizing the Power of Conversation

Are you leading or working through a change process? The Colorado Education Initiative’s new Navigating Change tool can help you lead or manage change with an individual, small group, or large group. This tool maps the stages of change with what you may see and hear at each stage, along with questions to ask to meet people where they are in the change process.

 Click here to explore the tool!

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2015 Healthy School Champions Recognition Program
Health is Vital for Student Success – New Publication!

2015 Healthy School Champions Recognition Program

The Healthy School Champions Program at The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) recognizes health and wellness in Colorado schools. This year’s top award winner is Pagosa Springs Middle School; the school will receive the Governor’s Award. This is the first year the award has been granted in cooperation with the Governor’s office. Each award-winning school will be recognized with funding ranging from $300 to $6,000. The Healthy School Champions Program is in its fifth year of supporting and celebrating healthy schools, with more than $163,000 awards granted over the past five years. Watch for the full list of award winners in the April issue of this newsletter!

The program provides a voluntary online, quantitative tool to assist schools in assessing how well they are coordinating their efforts and using best practices in school health. The number and quality of best practices implemented by past Champions have grown. Schools are using data to drive school health and wellness efforts, teaching standards-based health education and physical education, and involving their community.

The Healthy School Champions Recognition Program is funded by the Colorado Health Foundation and supported by CEI, the Colorado Department of Education, RMC Health, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and stakeholders throughout Colorado.

 For more information, contact Katy Fleming at

Health is Vital for Student Success – New Publication!

Schools and teachers know that adding physical education and wellness practices into classrooms jumpstarts students’ brains, but often need help to make the case that health is connected to student learning and staff productivity. Check out The Colorado Education Initiative’s Health is Vital for Student Success – a new overview of relevant research that connects the dots between good health practices and successful students and staff.

To explore this resource, click here.

“We invite educators to save the date to join our webinar on school health data and evaluation that will help them make the case for the connection between student health and academic performance,” says Amy Dillon, director of CEI’s Health and Wellness Initiative. “It’s not just students who see benefits from health and wellness efforts. Teachers and staff can improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, and decrease employee health costs.”

Students become better learners when they are physically and emotionally well, present, and engaged which translates into improved grades and test scores, attendance, and graduation rates.

The health and wellness research overview helps educators learn from their peers on how to make simple changes to the school day to create better learning environments. One school integrated regular physical activity in the school’s master schedule, allowing students to gain an extra 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

Learn more about practical steps schools can take to boost student achievement through health and wellness.

 Want to learn more about evaluating your school health efforts? Join CEI’s webinar on school health data and evaluation on Thursday, April 30 from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Check back in April for more information and to register!

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Igniting Educators to Design for Change

Congratulations to all of the award winners as well as the innovative designers who participated in DesignEDU 2.0! The following vignettes feature some of the winners and share more about their work:

Palmer High School, Colorado Springs: Sean Wybrant, digital media studies educator

Sean Wybrant began asking how Palmer High School might increase the interest and enrollment of young women in computer science and game programming classes. After extensive interviews to identify the biggest needs of students and staff, Wybrant began piloting Tech-Chic, a multigrade after-school club for young women. The club provides an opportunity for high school students to learn about technologies in a safe environment and also mentor middle school girls to pursue similar interests. Students interact with local women in business and technology industries as well as augmented reality hardware and software sectors. Wybrant’s work has already gained the attention of district and school board leadership, which revised policy to move the project forward.

Frisco Elementary School, Frisco: Peder Hansen, STEM coordinator

Peder Hansen started with the question, “How might we get educators excited about design thinking?” After exploring this challenge, he revised the question to “How can we be sure that educators are supported in implementing design thinking in their classrooms?” Frisco Elementary School will use its grant to host a design challenge day for teachers and students to experience the design thinking process. The school also will offer a free screening of “Maker,” a design thinking documentary, and offer three new after-school STEM clubs focused on robotics, computer-aided design, and audio and video skills, which will use design thinking to solve problems.

Arapahoe Ridge High School, Boulder: Sarah Flynn, art teacher, and Kim Walter, applied technology teacher

Sarah Flynn and Kim Walter wanted to learn how to implement design thinking in their classrooms. They also wanted to gain insight and strategies for using this process to solve problems as a faculty. Flynn and Walter will use their grant to enhance their school’s maker space with robotics components, electric circuits, and other equipment. This will provide the space and materials to give students quick design challenge opportunities. They also are leading a process of design thinking as a tool for faculty and staff to solve schoolwide problems.

Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment, Denver: Michael Brinn, culture and equity coach, Melissa Botner, social worker, and Elizabeth Hudson, special education teacher

Michael Brinn, Melissa Botner, and Elizabeth Hudson asked students and staff how the school might better align its positive behavior intervention systems with schoolwide core values to increase student motivation. Using the design thinking process and collecting feedback from students and staff, these educators began aligning all of the school’s systems so that a student’s positive individual behavior could lead directly to positive classroom rewards. Brinn, Botner, and Hudson also created a schoolwide positive behavior system that is earned through classes reaching their own behavior goals. They will host a schoolwide celebration when the school reaches its Whole School Cougar Coin goal.

 Click here to meet other DesignEDU 2.0 award winners!

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Look to CEI to Increase AP Access and Success

Interested in dramatically increasing access to and success in Advanced Placement (AP) coursework? Join more than 30 Colorado Legacy schools across the state that are achieving these goals.

If your school — or another Colorado school — would like The Colorado Education Initiative’s support in increasing college readiness through equitable access to AP coursework, contact Greg Hessee at or 720-502-4728.

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State STEM Advisory Committee Meeting
Update! Colorado STEM Education Roadmap
Update! STEM Career Pathway RFP
Regional Update
Colorado STEM Network Monthly Call
Upcoming Events

State STEM Advisory Committee Meeting

The state STEM Advisory Committee will convene April 22 from 9-11 a.m. The committee, which is made up STEM Champion Board members and state leaders, works to collaborate and advance STEM education and to build a diverse, local talent pipeline.

This meeting is open to the public, but seating is limited. Contact Micaela Johnson at to RSVP for the event.

Update! Colorado STEM Education Roadmap

Learn more about the progress underway over the last quarter in the updated Colorado STEM Education Roadmap interactive chart. Click here to check it out!

Update! STEM Career Pathways RFP

The Colorado Education Initiative is accepting proposals for yearlong grants to help students gain skills, experiences, and employment in middle-skill STEM occupations in Colorado growth sectors. Over 50 stakeholders have participated in informational conference calls. Final proposals must be submitted before 5 p.m. MST March 13. Click here to see specific eligibility requirements for the STEM Career Pathways RFP.

Regional Update

The Colorado Education Initiative is working closely with the Colorado Workforce Development Center and Office of Economic Development and International Trade to prioritize and engage with economic development regions across the state. For example, Colorado Springs is developing an action plan that will move the region toward defined goals for STEM education. Northern Colorado is identifying ways to elevate STEM education locally.

 If you have questions, would like more information about CEI’s regional work, or would like to join the district STEM Network, contact Liz Kuehl at

Colorado STEM Network Monthly Call

The Colorado STEM Network (CSN) comprises STEM stakeholders from across the state. During its monthly call, cross-sector participants present information about current programs, events, and opportunities. View the February CSN call at

 Interested in joining the network or presenting on a future call? Contact Micaela Johnson at

Upcoming Events!

Thanks to those who have shared feedback on our Twitter chats We listened and made changes to improve the conversation. Join The Colorado Education Initiative and the Colorado Department of Education for the next Twitter chat on March 18 at 7 p.m. The topic will be STEM education.

Participate by going to and typing in #edcolochat in the search box.

For more information, click here.

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