Colorado Budget Focus of Sept. 2 Buechner Breakfast

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Image courtesy of The Bell Policy Center

Colorado’s complex and challenging budget will be the focus of the monthly Buechner Breakfast at the University of Denver Sept. 2. Despite relatively low financial support for prominent state activities like transportation and road maintenance, K12 and higher education, taxpayers may still receive TABOR tax rebates. Recent attempts to straighten the budget tangle fell short, including proposed legislation to remove the hospital provider fee from TABOR restrictions in an effort to ease budget shortfalls. And just last month, a TABOR “timeout” initiative supporters wanted to send to voters in November was suspended due to a crowded ballot. While these changes have not moved forward, many believe that the conflicting state constitutional budget requirements can create a budget crisis in the next few years. Come be part of the conversation.

When: 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 2
Where: Terrace Room (2nd floor), 1380 Lawrence Street, Denver (map)
Admission: Free, but space is limited! Breakfast will be served. Register here.

If you are unable to attend, tune in remotely. Join us by phone, computer or tablet by clicking this link at the scheduled start time.

Posted in KidsFlash, Legislative, Outreach |


Erin Miller selected for Connect for Health Colorado Board Advisory Group

This month, the Connect for Health Colorado Board selected Erin Miller, Vice President for Health Initiatives, to serve as a consumer representative on the Board Advisory Group. The Board Advisory Group was created via legislation to make high-level policy recommendations to the Connect for Health Colorado Board of Directors. The group will begin meeting later this month.

Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash |


Follow CDE’s “The Scoop” for the latest on ESSA

The Colorado Department of Education recently launched “The Scoop” a new weekly e-newsletter featuring news and announcements. If you’re interested in following the work of the ESSA “hub” committee or “spoke” working groups that will be developing the state’s implementation plan, in addition to receiving general updates relevant to schools and districts, sign up here.

Posted in K-12 Education, KidsFlash |


Fast Fact- August 19, 2016

In the 2015-2016 school year, 1.1 percent of students in Colorado public schools were identified as immigrant students by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). Between 2011 and 2015, Colorado has seen a 10.7 percent increase in the number of immigrant students, while overall pupil enrollment has increased 5.2 percent over the same time period. To find immigrant student data for your county, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

Posted in Fast Facts, KidsFlash |


2016 CMAS Scores Show Positive Change in Elementary Math, Participation Rates

2016 CMAS Scores Show Positive Change in Elementary Math, Participation Rates
More third through fifth graders met state expectations in math in 2016, according to assessment results released this week by the Colorado Department of Education. The Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) are Colorado’s standards-based assessments designed to measure student performance on the Colorado Academic Standards in math, English language arts (ELA), social studies and science. ELA and math CMAS assessments were first administered to Colorado students in 2015, making this the first year we can examine year-to-year changes in student achievement in these subjects using these assessments.
Students in grades 3 through 5 posted gains in math, increasing proficiency rates by more than two percentage points over last year. More students also met or exceeded expectations in fourth grade ELA, eighth grade math, and eighth grade ELA. While state officials caution against drawing conclusions from just two years of data, it is encouraging to see improvement, particularly among elementary students.

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With CMAS social studies and science assessments in their third year, trends in student achievement are beginning to emerge. Since 2014, fourth grade social studies scores have grown more than any other grade or subject area, with proficiency levels increasing nearly seven percentage points from 17 percent in 2014 to 24 percent in 2016. Seventh grade social studies and fifth grade science scores have remained relatively flat since 2014, while eighth grade science showed a modest increase this year after a decline in 2015.

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While it’s encouraging to see some positive trends across multiple years of data, gaps in achievement by race, ethnicity and income persist in 2016 results. Across all grades tested, students in higher-income families were more than twice as likely to meet or exceed expectations than their peers in lower-income families. In math, although results improved slightly for all students, scores increased more for students in higher-income families than for those eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch. Similar gaps exist between students of color and their peers, highlighting how much work remains to ensure that all students have the support they need to succeed in the classroom.

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Assessment participation rates remained fairly constant from 2015 to 2016 across lower grades. Elementary school participation (grades 3 through 5) remained at 95 percent, while middle school participation dropped slightly, from 89 percent in 2015 to 88 percent in 2016. High school participation improved markedly, particularly in tenth grade, where the PSAT college preparatory exam replaced last year’s CMAS assessment. The change in assessment brought a 27 percentage point increase in participation among tenth graders. CDE noted in their release that non-participants were disproportionately white, economically better off and more likely to be native English speakers than the general student population.

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Coloradans agree that clear, rigorous and consistent standards play a critical role in supporting student growth. Assessments serve as a reliable tool to measure the progress of individuals, schools, districts and the state, and to hold us accountable to the high expectations we have for all students. Now that we have the foundational pieces of standards and assessments in place, it will be important to focus energy toward ongoing adjustments to make sure the system supports all students in achieving college and career success.

Posted in K-12 Education, KidsFlash |


Update: Campaign for A Healthy Colorado Turns in Signatures to Qualify for November Ballot

The Colorado Children’s Campaign continues to support Colorado’s tobacco tax initiative—the Campaign for a Healthy Colorado. The campaign celebrated a big milestone this week when it submitted over 165,000 signatures. The Secretary of State’s office will now review the signatures to determine whether there are at least the required number of 98,492 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The office has until September 7 to make its determination. The initiative continues to garner strong support among a widespread coalition of organizations that has been working to support important health services for Coloradans and reduce the use of tobacco. To learn more about the specifics of the proposal and get involved with the campaign, click here to read our past posting.

Volunteer for the campaign by contacting Theresa Cusimano at theresa@healthyco2016.com.

Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash |


Count Me In! Final Training Opportunities Announced

Count Me In! is an initiative of several groups committed to helping Colorado’s communities thrive. The goal is to reach every community in Colorado and increase voter participation on ballot issues. Data from recent elections shows that many voters don’t vote all the way to the end of the ballot, leaving blank their votes on important measures that help determine the economic well-being of our state.

There are several ways to get involved, including a statewide “train the trainer” effort that will help educate volunteers on our system of direct democracy, how state budget and fiscal policies affect communities and the role voters can play in deciding public policy. Training dates in August include:

Thursday, August 18

8:30 am – 4:00 pm

Community First Foundation

5855 Wadsworth Bypass, Arvada, CO 80003

To RSVP click here: https://goo.gl/forms/TV1bOaPFdUAJReUF2

 

Tuesday, August 23

9:30 am – 4:00 pm

Harmony Library Community Room (H)

4616 S. Shields St, Fort Collins, CO 80526

To RSVP click here: https://goo.gl/forms/62Ke8egBkdmX8NXj1

 

For more information on training dates and other details, visit the Count Me In! website or email alexis@countmeincolorado.com.

Posted in KidsFlash, Outreach |


Fast Fact- August 12, 2016

In 2014, the poverty rate for Colorado children under 6 declined sharply, dropping to 16 percent (66,000 kids) from 19 percent (76,000 kids) the previous year. Because brain development is so significant in the first few years of life, poverty experienced during early childhood is particularly harmful. One study found that people who experienced poverty between birth and age 5 completed fewer years of school, were more likely to be arrested, and were nearly three times more likely to be in poor health as adults than those who lived in moderate- to upper-income families during their early years.  To find poverty rates for young children in your county, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

Posted in Fast Facts, KidsFlash |


Colorado Healthy Beverage Policy Review May Reintroduce Diet Soda into School

Historically, Colorado has led the way in policies addressing the beverages offered for sale in our schools – helping to ensure healthy school environments where kids can learn habits that will put them on the path to being healthy adults and making Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. Colorado’s high standards around beverages sold in schools are supported by local school wellness advocates and parents who want to ensure all children have access to nutritious foods and beverages.  These standards, already in place, are at risk of being changed.

After a seven-year ban, diet soda could be reintroduced to high school vending machines if the State Board of Education approves proposed changes to state beverage rules. The proposed changes would roll back the state’s efforts to provide a healthy learning environment for all children. The research on the safety of diet sodas suggest that there may be negative health consequences associated with artificial sweeteners. Research differs on the possible extent of this harm, with some studies finding that diet soda consumption is associated with weight gain, impaired glucose control and eventual diabetes. We know diet soda is not a healthy beverage and therefore does not belong in the state’s healthy beverage policy. The State Board will consider the proposed beverage rules at its Aug. 10 meeting in Grand Junction. If approved, the rules would take effect by the 2017-18 school year at the latest.

A host of health-minded organizations, including the Colorado Children’s Campaign, are pushing back against the proposal, saying the state was ahead of the curve when it launched a policy banning soda and diet soda from schools in 2009. You can join this effort to preserve Colorado’s high standards for beverages sold in schools and get involved by contacting advocacy@livewellcolorado.org and visiting https://www.cde.state.co.us/nutrition/nutrlegislation for more information. Read more here.

Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash |


U.S. Education Secretary Lauds Colorado Shines

Colorado’s efforts to improve child care quality were applauded this week by U.S. Education Secretary John King during a visit to Denver. Colorado Shines, our child care quality rating system, was launched with support from a federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant nearly four years ago. The systems Colorado has built are now giving parents information on the quality of child care programs while helping child care professionals enhance their skills and practices.

Bill Jaeger, Interim President and CEO of the Children’s Campaign, moderated a panel on Monday with Secretary King and 30 early childhood leaders including Katy Anthes, Commissioner of Education, Reggie Bicha, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Human Services, child care providers, representatives from local early childhood councils, state agency leaders, local government officials, and philanthropic leaders. The discussion highlighted how Colorado has used federal dollars to build a set of systems to support the early childhood field, including a credentialing system for educators, a rating system to provide families with an understanding of provider quality, data systems to inform continuous improvement, and connections across state agencies responsible for supporting our youngest learners.  The Secretary complimented the progress Colorado is making and urged us to continue to focus on both access and quality for all children, with a particular focus on dual language learners, children with special needs, children experiencing homelessness, and those in the foster care system.

Read more coverage of the visit from Chalkbeat reporter Ann Schimke.

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King visiting Mile High Early Learning Center on Monday. Photo courtesy Chalkbeat Colorado.

Posted in Early Childhood, KidsFlash |


 

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