CMAS tests, Superintendents and Prom in a Pandemic: Here’s what we learned this week

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I’m Denver7 education reporter Nicole Brady. This is my weekly “education notebook,” where I will discuss the big education stories of the week and talk about the challenges and opportunities for education in Colorado.

While many students and teachers in Colorado have been on spring break this week, it’s been a very busy week for this education reporter! District leaders and state lawmakers have continued to make big decisions affecting the rest of this school year, and next.

Here’s what we learned this week:

CMAS tests could be reduced. On Tuesday, the Colorado General Assembly passed a bill to limit standardized tests for this school year. The federal government must now grant a waiver to allow Colorado to cancel certain tests for certain grades.

Five Colorado school districts are recruiting new leaders after a series of pandemic departures

Superintendent searches move forward. Denver Public Schools held a news conference Thursday to update the community on their search. The district has opened applications and expects to announce finalists in May. This week, I reported on five Colorado school districts looking for new superintendents after an unprecedented string of departures. More than 320,000 Colorado kids are in schools without permanent leaders.

Prom guidance released. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has released guidance for schools hoping to host the traditional spring dance. Outdoor proms are encouraged. The class of 2020 missed out on this milestone, with proms and graduation ceremonies canceled. JeffCo Public schools says it’s reviewing prom requests from schools on a case-by-case basis, and encouraging schools to hold proms after graduation.

The prom is back: Colorado schools receive guidance for 2021

More students returning to in-person learning. Aurora Public Schools announced this week that high school students will return to class Monday through Thursday beginning March 22. Half of the students will attend in person in the morning, and remote in the afternoon; and the other half will do the opposite. Fridays will still be asynchronous learning days for all grades. Denver Public Schools also announced middle and K-8 schools will offer five days of in-person learning by April 19.

Denver Public Schools also announced Thursday it will start the 2021-2022 school year on Aug. 23, in an effort to minimize hot August days in the classroom.

What I’m working on:

Now that some key testing and school funding bills have passed, state lawmakers are moving forward with addressing learning loss and mental health for our kids. I’ll be keeping tabs on some proposed legislation in the coming weeks. Email me if there’s an issue you want to hear more about!