Tag Archives: Joyce Rankin Colorado State Board of Education

Latest News – October 13

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The flight simulator was a big hit with the students attending the 19th Annual Career Fair at Lake County High School on October 11. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

School News: Challenge to Opportunity

By Joyce Rankin, 3rd Congressional District, State Board of Education.

Joyce Rankin writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in her district, which includes Leadville and Lake County.

Joyce Formal sport coat

Joyce Rankin

Teacher shortage, continuing education, parent participation, technology, and students unqualified to satisfy workforce needs. These are just some of the challenges our public schools face.  In September I toured southwest Colorado and found some school superintendent’s creatively solving some of their district’s many challenges.

We continue to hear about the need for higher teacher’s salaries and teacher housing in order to hire and retain the best educators. Although we already have very dedicated teachers, many when asked say that you can’t raise a family on a teacher’s salary. Some taxpayers say that the amount of time off for teachers (fall, winter, and spring breaks; holidays, and summer vacations) with many on four day work weeks, is an unfair comparison with year round occupations.   One west slope district superintendent was creative in solving his need for fifteen teachers. He hosted a booth at a popular job fair and one hundred and fifteen teachers attended. He then hired the fifteen he needed. Openings are now posted on his district website.

Another innovative solution for retaining teacher’s involved two elementary teachers planning on taking pregnancy/child leave. When the superintendent joined with a local preschool program and implemented the Teddy Bear Infant and Toddler Program at the school site, both teachers enrolled their children and continued to teach.

Only ten percent of parents were participating in secondary school parent-teacher conferences in one western Colorado school district. The superintendent set up a program called Student Led Conferences.  Students take the lead in the conference. They also direct their coursework, interests, accomplishments and challenges, and share them with their parents/teachers at the conference.

The same school has four diploma pathways: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Academic, Honors, and Technical/Vocational. Students choosing the Honors pathway must, among other requirements, earn a combined score of 1150 or above on the eleventh grade Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) exam. The average score in the state in 2017 was 1014.

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The 19th Annual Career Fair was held at the Lake County High School gymnasium on Wednesday, allowing students to speak directly to professionals in their field of interest. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

Two other districts have focused their attention on career education. One program in Cortez has the back half of an ambulance built into the classroom to give students a real “hands on” approach to emergency training situations.  In Montrose, the entire school district emphasizes STEM learning. Students are given opportunities to work with aerospace firms on the eastern side of the mountains.

At the end of my trip I was proud to join Superintendent Mike Epright, of the West End School District (Nucla, Naturita, Bedrock and Paradox), in their community picnic celebrating the transition off of the “turnaround clock” for one of their schools. The school exited from Turnaround, or the lowest performance rating, to a Performance or the highest rating.  Over 200 teachers, students and parents joined with the community to celebrate their achievement.

These are a few of the remarkable programs being offered at schools in Colorado’s southwest. For some, difficult challenges have become incredible opportunities.

I’m honored to represent the 3rd Congressional District on the State Board of Education.

Joyce Rankin writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in her district.  The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol. She is also a Legislative Assistant for Representative Bob Rankin.

Latest News – September 18

High Stakes for Lake County Students: Testing

By Joyce Rankin, State Board of Education, CD3

Joyce Formal sport coat

State Board Representative Joyce Rankin

During the August board meeting of the State Board of Education, the Colorado Department of Education released the Scholastic Aptitude Scores (SAT) for 2016-17. The SAT, is a standardized test that is administered by the College Board, a non-profit organization.  The test is used by colleges and universities to determine college readiness.

In 2016-17 the SAT was first introduced to Colorado eleventh grade students. The new test is reported to be more closely aligned to our state academic standards than previous tests. It can be taken by paper and pencil or by using a computer.  It also relies more on skill and less on “testing taking tricks” than other tests.

The SAT basically measures what a student has learned in “Math” and “Evidence Based Reading and Writing” (EBRW). In the past, Reading and Writing earned separate scores but the new SAT combines reading and writing scores. EBRW and Math scores range from 200 to 800 points. The total combined score range is, therefore, 400 to 1600.

What is a good SAT score?

Colorado requires all juniors to take the SAT test. We are one of eight states to do so.  Other states have choice options that may include the SAT. The average Colorado score for EBRW was 513.4 and 500.9 for Math.  A total combined score for the average student in Colorado was 1014.3.

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The SAT Test – an unquestioned tradition?

Let’s look at a student who scored 1014 on the combined tests.  What schools can the student apply to and feel confident he will be accepted? One of our great Western Colorado schools admits students with a combined score between 990-1210 with the average score of accepted students at 1100. With a score of 1014 a student has a 97% chance of being admitted.  Harvard, in comparison, accepts students with a scores between 1470-1600, with an average admittance score of 1535. Your chances here would be very slim. A good SAT score, therefore, might be a score that would help you gain admittance into the college of your choice.

The SAT is considered to be a “high stakes” test for college bound students.  Of course, there are other, less expensive, career pathways to follow that allow students to enter, and be successful, in the workforce. It’s a matter of career choice, which may change, throughout a lifetime.

Joyce Rankin is on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District, which includes the Lake County School District. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in her district.  The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol. 

Leadville Students Test Well, Eat Well

Last spring, Lake County High School (LCHS) principal Ben Cairns made a promise to students. He promised he would treat any student who achieved a 90th percentile growth score in BOTH Math and ELA on The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), to dinner at Quincy’s Steakhouse in Leadville.

Quincys Steaks and Spirits was first opened in October of 1997 in the heart of historic Leadville. Photo: Quincys Tavern.

Students who did well in recent testing will be treated to a steak dinner at Quincy’s in downtown Leadville.

PARCC is a group of states partnered together to develop a set of common assessments for students. PARCC tests are aligned to the Common Core standards, which stress reading comprehension and critical thinking.

According to school district officials, at the time that Principal Cairns made the bet, he thought this would be 1-3 students – as this is a very difficult bar to reach. In fact, 13 LCHS students and another 9 Lake County Intermediate School students achieved it. The school district will be celebrating these students along with a guest of their choice to dinner at Quincy’s on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. It was also recently reported by the school district that the Leadville Legacy Foundation will actually be upholding the promise Cairns made, and picking up the tab for dinner, as they have come on board as a 90/90 sponsor.