Colorado

Rise & Shine: Colorado’s teacher prep programs are under scrutiny for how they teach reading

Good morning.

Welcome to another Friday edition of Rise & Shine.

Before we get into the news, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the pain of our Muslim readers and of our Muslim students and their families in the wake of the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand. These events reverberate in countless ways, and we are holding you in our thoughts.

As lawmakers and advocates question why so many Colorado children read below grade level, one theme we've heard at Chalkbeat is that many teachers don't feel like their educator preparation programs gave them the tools they need to reach struggling readers. We recently put up an online survey on this topic, and the response was overwhelming.

The state evaluators who oversee teacher prep programs have taken notice, starting with a scathing review of Colorado's largest program. Other colleges and universities could be next. Ann has that story.

We also have news on the State Board of Education's indecision on whether the Mapleton school district is the best turnaround manager for Adams 14, a bill to limit suspensions and expulsions in the early grades advancing in the legislature, and more.

Read on.

— Erica Meltzer, bureau chief

TEACHING READING The reading courses at Colorado’s largest educator preparation program don’t match up with research on literacy instruction, and many of the professors have philosophies that contradict state standards, according to a scathing new critique by state evaluators. State evaluators are putting more scrutiny on literacy instruction amid widespread concerns about persistently low reading rates. Chalkbeat

We asked teachers how well their programs did or didn’t prepare them to teach reading. Here’s what they said. Chalkbeat

ANSWER HAZY The Colorado State Board of Education isn’t sure that the Mapleton school district is up to the job of improving student performance in the long-struggling Adams 14 district. But instead of taking an up-or-down vote on Mapleton’s external manager application, board members asked the two districts to consider additional partners. Chalkbeat

DISCIPLINE REFORM An effort to limit school suspensions and expulsions for Colorado’s youngest students took its first step to becoming law Thursday. Chalkbeat

FAIR PLAY An Aspen couple are among the 50 celebrities, CEOs, and other wealthy parents accused in an elaborate scheme to gain admittance to elite schools for their children, despite average grades and SAT scores. Denver Post

BOOTSTRAPS Did you go to community college? What are you doing now? With so much attention on elite institutions, a Twitter thread highlights the stories of students with humbler beginnings, who still got where they wanted to be. Yashar Ali

NOTES 2.0 The hot new chat app for teenagers is Google Docs. As laptops become ubiquitous in middle and high schools and teachers encourage collaborative projects, students log on as if they’re doing school work and quickly start passing notes. The Atlantic

STUDENT VOICE A Su Teatro production commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Chicano student walkout at Denver’s West High School. CBS 4

FAMILY TIES Parents at a Monument charter school are questioning hiring practices there after the sudden departure of a French teacher who was the daughter-in-law of the executive director. Gazette

DISCONNECTED A majority of middle and high school students in District 51 don’t feel like they belong in school and don’t feel engaged in learning, a new survey found. They are more alienated, on average, than their peers around the country. Grand Junction Sentinel

FINAL FOUR The Dolores school board has four finalists for its superintendent job. The Journal

IN LOVING MEMORY The Aspen community is mourning and celebrating a remarkable kindergarten teacher. Aspen Times

GREEN SPACE The Steamboat school district is considering building a new school on land that neighbors have long used as a park. Those neighbors aren’t on board. Steamboat Pilot and Today