Money Matters

  • “The public debate has shifted from does money matter to where money matters,” according to a report on “Effective School Expenditures:” published by the National Education Policy Center.  Compiling the findings of numerous studies, the report discusses what has become a familiar list of cost-effective programs and services, including quality early childhood education, community schools, expanded learning time, full-day kindergarten, and appropriate class sizes.
  • The Denver Post featured an article about the big payoff that the St. Vrain Valley School District has seen since making considerable new investments six years ago in early childhood education. In 2006, the District received a $5 million federal grant for Early Childhood Education, voters approved a mill-levy override, and a voter-approved bond measure also contributed to their investments. Six years later, all 26 of St. Vrain’s elementary schools offer preschool and full-day kindergarten, making it one of just a handful of districts in the state with that offering. St. Vrain Superintendent Don Haddad explained their significant results for students since the program was implemented: “At the elementary level, what we’ve seen with at-risk kids is they’ve gone from 18 percent proficient to 88 percent proficient in third-grade reading,” and that “Overall, the district’s third-grade reading scores have improved by 4 percentage points, from 77 percent reading at or above grade level in 2007 to 81 percent achieving that in 2011.”
  • A recent Denver Post article looked at the change to four-day school weeks in an increasing number of Colorado School Districts with the last several years of state budget cuts: “Since the recession hit in 2007, 18 Colorado districts have switched to four-day school weeks — a nearly 30 percent increase. The state jumped from 62 to 80 districts with schools [with four day weeks]… Most cited financial reasons for the change…Critics of the four-day week, while acknowledging that even minimal savings can mean a lot to a district, see the practice as adding to an already troubling summer learning loss and flying in the face of trending reform efforts aimed at expanding instructional time.” Click here to read the Post article which includes reactions from parents, educators, and national experts about the impacts of a four-day week.
  • What does Colorado’s “digital divide” look like? A recent Denver Post article explored the issue, explaining that “While one classroom streams online coursework to students, others log off the Internet so a school’s meager bandwidth can handle the load.” As a result, “classes ranging from Advanced Placement to world languages to credit-recovery courses may not be available in areas with lagging local Internet connections — denying many students the same instructional options as their better-connected counterparts.” (Denver Post)
  • Colorado four-year institutions get a D for Student Access and Success, but an A for Cost-Effectiveness and Efficiency from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Institute for a Competitive Workforce)
  • Center, Colorado’s Haskin Elementary saw its 3rd grade reading scores rise 35 percentage points in a single year, from 41% of students achieving reading proficiency to 76%. Center Superintendent George Welsh said the results show that more money spent wisely makes a difference: “I think the results we are achieving are a real life indication that a significant infusion of dollars, spent wisely in targeted areas, can produce the kinds of results the state has striven for through the education system it has designed. Without the training and resource opportunities that were afforded to us through our turnaround grant, we would probably still be where we were in 2010 when only 28% of our third-graders could read at grade level.” (Ed News Colorado)
  • CSAP scores in the North Conejos School District have declined since they had to cut summer school and a writing teacher. (Lobato decision, Page 51)
  • Colorado study finds correlation between endorsed librarians and higher gains in reading scores. (Library Research Service.)
  • The 2008 CAP4Kids legislation created a Preschool through Higher Ed system of standards and measurements to take students from “Ready to Learn” in Kindergarten through “Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR)”. A study analyzing the cost of complying with CAP4Kids and achieving its standards found a start-up cost of $178 million, and an annual cost thereafter of $206 million. (Colorado School Finance Project)
  • The four highest achieving states (as identified by the 2012 Quality Counts report published by Education Week) are in the top ten in per pupil funding. No state that ranks higher than Colorado in achievement spends less than Colorado. (2012 Quality Counts Report)
  • The Center school district got a three-year federal “turnaround grant” they are using to align their curriculum with standards. In the first year, proficiency scores increased 13%. (Lobato opinion, Page 122)
  • CDE study shows that schools that spend more than $900/child in Title I funds are showing more academic growth than schools that get less than $900 per child in Title I. (Lobato opinion, Page 107).