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Valley schools pursue grant

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 16th, 2012


Moffat School District Superintendent Kirk Banghart talks to Valley teachers about changes in education. Courier photo by Lauren Krizansky


Courier staff writer

SARGENT — Hundreds of Valley teachers descended on the Sargent Junior-Senior High School on Friday to participate in the Race to the Top of the Valley Collaborative (RTTTVC), a multi-district, grassroots effort to improve K-12 education.

The purpose of the RTTTVC is to develop a high quality curriculum to enhance the quality of education for all children. The curriculum will be aligned to Colorado standards and it will utilize professional learning communities (PLC) to support teachers and administrators improving overall classroom instruction.

“This is an opportunity to hear about instructional practice,” said Moffat School District Superintendent Kirk Banghart to the packed auditorium. “It will help you improve the affect of what you do for our children.”

The RTTTVC has been in the works since last year. The districts have united to try to capture a federal Race to the Top district competition (RTTTDC) grant worth roughly $20 million. RTTTDC is a national competition providing incentives to states to adopt bold and comprehensive reforms in elementary and secondary education, and lay the foundation for unprecedented innovation. A total of 46 states and the District of Columbia have designed plans to implement college- and career-ready standards, use data systems to guide learning and teaching, evaluate and support teachers and school leaders and turn around their lowest-performing schools. The purpose of the RTTTDC is to build on the lessons learned from the state competitions conducted under the Race to the Top program and to support bold, locally directed improvements in learning and teaching that will directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness.

After being overlooked in the first and second grant cycles, Colorado has been labeled a “top priority state,” Center Consolidated School District Superintendent and RTTTDC leader George Welsh explained to the teachers on Friday. The RTTTDC request for proposal offers significant funding to districts or consortia of districts for the implementation of an effective approach to increasing the personalization of learning for all students. The 14 Valley districts and the San Luis Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) created the RTTTVC for the purpose of applying for and implementing the grant if awarded in December.

Over the next two years, most Valley districts will undergo a curriculum overhaul to meet state and federal education requirements, particularly teacher quality evaluations and modern standards development. Through the eventual Colorado Senate Bill 191 mandated teacher evaluations, administrators will be identifying educator strengths and weaknesses and asking around to find out if students understand their daily exercises. The RTTTVC, with or without the federal funding, intends to help districts tackle these changes.

“The goal is to personalize learning for students,” Welsh said. “There could be between $18 and $20 million spend on teacher training, time and resources. The outcome will be for kids in the San Luis Valley. Whatever they want to explore, they can do it.”

The RTTTVC must submit the grant application before the end of the month, and is asking for public feedback. Through Oct. 26, the public is invited to visit www.racetothetopofthevalley.org to access an executive summary of the RTTTVC’s application and the actual draft application and appendices. Feedback on any specific area of the grant and/or on the overall approach is requested. Face to face presentations are also available. Contact information is available on the website.



RTTTVC Core Beliefs

•The professional knowledge and experience needed to achieve our purpose already exists within the San Luis Valley.

•Every teacher should know what to teach and when to teach it, how to effectively plan for lessons that are aligned to the agreed upon curriculum, how to engage all students in every lesson, and how to effectively measure the learning of students and adjust instruction based on learning results.

•Every building leader should have the skills necessary to support teachers to improve planning, instruction, and use of student data to drive future instruction.

•Every superintendent should have the skills needed to guide building leaders in the process of supporting teachers to improve planning, instruction, and use of student data to drive future instruction.

•Bringing administrators and teachers together to share their professional knowledge in an organized and guided fashion will improve learning outcomes.














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