Chalkbeat highlights early progress of Jefferson, Alameda plans

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An October 2 Chalkbeat Colorado story highlights the early progress of the community-developed and Board-approved plans to reconfigure educational delivery in the two poorest regions of Jeffco Public Schools. “Changes embraced at Jeffco schools that serve low-income students” by Nic Garcia notes both the encouraging news and the ongoing challenges facing the Jefferson and Alameda articulartion areas:

Early anecdotal evidence suggests the changes, which include combining four schools into two and developing a dual language program in primary schools, are resonating with teachers, students and parents, district leaders said.

But there are long-term building needs that the district will need to tackle and it’s still too early to know whether an emphasis to improve students’ vocabularies will be enough to boost achievement for those who are chronically behind.

In March 2015 the Jeffco Board of Education unanimously approved both the Jefferson and Alameda plans. The plans — developed by parents, teachers, and community leaders — represent bottom-up solutions that recognize the unique challenges facing the lower-income populations of students in the affected areas of Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, and Edgewater.

In 2014, only 2 percent of 10th graders at Edgewater’s Jefferson High School demonstrated proficiency in math. At nearby Lundberg Elementary, only 40 percent of third graders reached the critical mark of reading at grade level.

Jeffco’s current trajectory is focused on increased expectations centrally and more empowered decisions locally. Under the incoming leadership of the current majority in 2013, the board voted unanimously to set higher academic achievement goals district-wide. The board also has supported the district’s significant change to student-based budgeting, which promotes greater decision-making over resources, personnel, and programs at the building level.