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Finding Ways to Improve Instructional Time, Staff Quality

At the center of Colorado Springs District 11's plan to improve performance is recruiting and keeping solid educators, in part by collaborating with a local college. Strategies also have been developed to improve and expand instructional time. Included: Description of ways to assess instructional time.

Colorado Springs District 11 has created a structure to improve the academic achievement of all students by maximizing instructional and learning time. The district plans to attract, develop, and retain a highly skilled and motivated workforce of leaders in order to ensure that students, parents, and the community are involved and working together to improve student achievement.

The district and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs have initiated a professional development school for emerging leaders including school principals. The district is also part of a five-district Pikes Peak region team participating in a National Science Foundation five-year grant for elementary science that incorporates a principal leadership academy. In this, the fourth year of the grant, five principals from Title I schools have participated in the leadership academy.

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District resources are aligned to support the goals for improving academic achievement, and annual evaluations are used to determine the effective and efficient use of the district's assets in meeting the educational requirements. School wide teams focus on growth targets by using a collaborative planning template. These teams run their own data on student performance and develop in service training focused on the areas of greatest need.

The current reporting system for student assessments in Colorado is being adjusted to meet the requirements of NCLB; for example, the report structure provides a composite score for grades 3, 4, and 5, instead of grade level scores, as NCLB requires. Every elementary school in Colorado Springs District 11 made AYP in 2003, and one Title I school wide middle school and one targeted assistance middle school did not make AYP.

The changes in testing may require district staff to make some changes in the school system to assure that students continue achieving. However, staff members believe that they have a strong structure and well-designed process in place at schools to meet any new challenges.

The district created multiple opportunities for parents to learn about supplemental services, such as meetings, letters, and announcements at parent gatherings, even announcements at football games.

In 2003-04, the Colorado Springs District also was an approved provider of supplemental services, offering before- and after-school tutoring. All of the state-approved providers who were selected by parents offered student assistance in after-school settings. Even with this outreach effort to parents, only one student took part in the additional services in 2002-03 and 13 in 2003-04.

SOURCE: Center on Education Policy

To read the full report, see A Look Inside 33 School Districts: Year 2 of the No Child Left Behind Act.