Western States

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Denver Public Schools Receives $10 Million Grant to Expand LEAP Initiative
DPS has created a teacher effectiveness system known as LEAP. Thanks to a $10 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the district may explore new initiatives for LEAP, which will directly affect how teachers and administrators are evaluated in the state.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently recognized Denver Public Schools for their work on an innovative teacher evaluation system. The new system, known as LEAP, received a new $10 million grant from the foundation, which recognized three years of advancements by the school district. Denver Public Schools plans to use the money to continue to improve and refine their evaluation model that has become an example for other school districts across the country.
 
Progress Rewarded
 
According to a press release on the DPS website, the grant was given based on the successful progress of the teacher evaluation initiatives by the district. The grant is actually a renewal of an earlier $10 million grant provided by the foundation, which was used to launch the evaluation system in 2011. The system expanded to include all schools in the district by the 2012-2013 school year. The new funding will allow the program to reach full implementation throughout the school district.
 
“We are very appreciative of this additional investment in the important, collaborative work we’ve been doing to support our teachers and to help our students achieve,” Tom Boasberg, superintendent of Denver Public Schools, stated in the press release. “We have worked closely with our teachers and our school leaders to build a system that develops and recognizes high-quality teachers, and positively impacts our schools and students.” 
 
About LEAP
 
LEAP stands for Leading Effective Academic Practice. According to the DPS website, LEAP is not merely a system for evaluating district teachers. Instead,
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Hawaii Leading Pack in Race to the Top, Thanks to Local Support
We report on Hawaii’s stellar progress in its Race to the Top efforts and how the support of one philanthropic organization on the Islands is contributing to that success.
As states continue the hard work initiated by Race to the Top, Hawaii appears to be showing the rest of the nation how to get things done. The state, which is also one of the largest school districts in the country, is busy getting ducks in a row to comply with Race to the Top requirements. As a district that had received a high-risk mark from the federal government for its lack of progress less than two years ago, Hawaii, thanks to hard work and a key contribution from a local philanthropist, is becoming a shining example of how persistence can pay off in the wonderful world of public education.
 
Racing to the Top
 
In 2010, Hawaii won a $75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s new Race to the Top program, according to Education Week. The school district had ambitious plans for revamping its system, including transitioning public schools to Common Core Standards, improving teacher development programs and establishing a new teacher’s contract. Unfortunately, the federal government wasn’t impressed - at first.
 
By December, 2011, the state had received a black mark from the U.S. Education Department. The federal agency said the school had achieved high-risk status because it had failed to make adequate progress toward reaching its Race to the Top goals. But Hawaii wasn’t going to be thwarted from their efforts. By February, 2013, the state had regained its good standing for at least a portion of its grant, and now may be
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L.A. Philanthropic Group Commits Large Sum to Promote Arts in District Schools
A $750,000 gift to Los Angeles Unified School District will go to expanding art programs in schools throughout the district.
At a time when budget cuts have forced many school districts across the country to cut arts programs, one of the largest districts has received funding to beef up their arts offerings. Los Angeles Unified School District recently received a large donation from an organization that will allow them to try out a new arts integration program in many of their schools. This new pilot program will extend over the next three years.
 
Bringing the Arts Back to the Classroom
 
The Sacramento Bee reports that the donation, totaling $750,000, comes from the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education. Referred to as the LA Fund, this organization is responsible for launching the Arts Matter campaign in public schools throughout the district. The new donation comprises the actual program phase of the effort, which has consisted of advocacy and fundraising to this point.
 
According to the Century City-Westwood Patch, this recent donation will be used to support teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District as they strive to integrate the arts into their classrooms. The students will also benefit, as the donation will increase student access to the arts. The donation will help advance the five-year arts plan, known as “Arts at the Core,” which was developed by the district to bring the arts into the classroom.
 
Arts at the Core provides methods for teachers to integrate the arts into all subject matter in the classroom. This results-based program has already seen success in the school district, and hopes to
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Los Angeles Public Schools to Receive iPads from Apple
The Los Angeles School Board of Education recently approved a deal for Apple to roll out iPads to students across the district. We’ll look at how this new deal might change the face of education in one of the biggest school districts in the country.
Technology is coming to the Los Angeles Unified School District in a very widespread way this fall, as district officials have unveiled a plan to put an Apple iPad in the hands of every student in the district. The ambitious endeavor could eventually encompass more than 900 school campuses and 640,000 students between kindergarten and 12th grade.
 
Coming Soon to a Los Angeles School Near You
 
MacWorld reports that the deal between Apple and one of the largest school districts in the country will total more than $30 million when all is said and done. More than the money, a distribution this widespread positions Apple as the technology leader in education, at least on the West Coast where students will now be using their device in mass. The partnership will begin with the distribution of 31,000 iPads, which will be distributed at 47 campuses throughout the district this fall.
 
According to TelecomTiger, the Apple iPad was chosen by the school district because it has been rated the highest in quality and will be one of the most cost-effective means for bringing technology into the district on such a grand scale. The review panel that chose the iPad over other devices included both teachers and students in the district. By 2014, the district plans to ensure every student has one of these devices in their possession. Apple executives believe that the distribution to the school district with match their corporate philosophy as well.
 
“Education is in Apple’s DNA and we’re
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Florida School District Gets Help from Unlikely Source
An unexpected partnership between Duval County Schools and area churches appears to be successful for the schools getting assistance.
At a time when many schools are pushing churches out in the interest of separation of church and state, one large Florida school district is actually welcoming churches in. Duval County, as well as other Florida school districts, appears to be learning the delicate dance between accepting help from community churches without bringing religion into the school setting. As the two coordinate efforts, it seems the biggest winners in this new partnership are the students the schools – and churches – aim to serve.
 
An Unlikely Partnership
 
The Florida Times-Union reports that First Coast churches are coming to the aid of many schools in the area, with surprisingly positive results. The first step toward this unlikely partnership was the school system, which approached a Christian non-profit, Campus Crusade for Christ, five years ago. One of the employees of the organization, Ken Vensel, was surprised when school officials asked the organization for help with a faith-based initiative for the schools. However, Vensel took the request to heart and organized a group of faith leaders in the area to come together in providing the services schools were looking for.
 
The result has been a number of partnerships between schools and faith leaders throughout the state, including Duval County where the needs are often great. In one Duval elementary school, Windy Hill, nearly 70 percent of the student population qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches. Churches can help these schools in a variety of ways, offering food for students to take
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Western States