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Nov 19, 2012 4:20 PM by Kirsten Bennett

Gates Foundation grant aims to improve Colo. graduation rate

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia today announced plans to expand Colorado's efforts to help to increase high school graduation rates and better prepare students for success in college and careers. This work, funded by a $5.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will build on the Colorado Integration Project that began last year.

"We are grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for recognizing the excellent work being done here in Colorado to improve student outcomes," Hickenlooper said. "This funding will allow us to continue and expand the critical work of helping students advance through a meaningful education. It also helps us to grow a stronger, better prepared workforce of the future."

The grant will be administered through the Colorado Legacy Foundation's Integration Project. The Integration Project is comprised of thirteen geographically and demographically representative school districts who serve as a comprehensive microcosm for the reforms being led statewide by the Colorado Department of Education. The Integration Project uses an integrated model of teaching and learning designed to significantly improve the number and rate of students who graduate from Colorado high schools college and career-ready.

"Education reform is serious work in Colorado. This award is recognition of the importance of building broad coalitions between national, state and local partners to accelerate these reforms," Garcia said. "We are pleased to be a part of this exciting educational work."

Colorado was chosen for funding in large part because current state education reform efforts provide a strong framework for the proposed work.

"We are grateful for Governor Hickenlooper's, Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia's and Commissioner Robert Hammonds' leadership and honored to support the districts as they implement these critical reforms," said Dr. Helayne Jones, President and CEO of the Colorado Legacy Foundation. "This important investment is a recognition of our leadership, the support of the local funding community, and the strength of Colorado's reform agenda."

With this project, Colorado is working with a cohort of other states, including Kentucky and Louisiana, to integrate teacher evaluation and support with implementation of new academic standards and instructional supports. Both the Colorado Legacy Foundation and the Colorado Department of Education are committed to work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to share the learning from and the products of this Integration Grant with other states and districts across the nation.

The program is designed to accelerate and integrate implementation of new educator performance evaluation systems and the Colorado Academic Standards using instructional tools aligned to those standards. The thirteen districts participating in the Integration Project include Centennial School District, Denver Public Schools, Eagle County Schools, San Juan BOCES (nine school districts in the Southwest corner of the state), and Thompson School District. These Integration districts serve as demonstration sites and lessons learned are shared statewide as all Colorado school districts work to implement the new state requirements.

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