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El Paso County Colorado District 49

From the CEO – All Together Now

In District 49, we are coming up on a major fork in the road. If our community supports the ballot measures to add funds and facilities, we will launch into building and program plans that will take us several years to complete. If our community instead decides to continue current levels of support, weíll take that direction and grow with the resources we have. Either way, District 49 is moving forward. If our path takes us through new territory, weíll be walking there together. If we proceed as we have for years, weíll go forward together. Thereís no circumstance where ìYesî voters get one future and ìNoî voters another. Whatever we decide, our best future is together.That shared future is part of why we should be excited about the strengthening foundations of District 49. There are two important initiatives underway that are prominent in all our planning. For years, Colorado students have lived under the requirements of TCAPóa Transitional assessment system. We all knew the TCAP years were a transition to something more permanent, and starting this year we are beginning to perform under the new system. Whatís exciting about our new learning direction in District 49 is that we donít depend on a single test anymore. Our teachers have spent the last three years evaluating their own teaching and assessment to make our schools more effective places to learn. Across the district, we are emphasizing the importance of reading by third grade. For all kinds of academic and social reasons, a child who reads by third grade is on a pathway to success. Reading helps children write, compute, imagine and create. It is the fundamental skill for learning online and a critical workplace skill for all of us. Reading is essential, but it isnít simple. Reading well is the result of a complex set of skills, knowledge, motivation and practice. Itís so important that we are not satisfied with a once-a-year assessment like the TCAP of old or even the new PARCC tests. In our schools, we track a wide range of teacher-led measures like reading aloud to friends, reading to an adult, reading for information and reading for enjoyment. We still test and measure and diagnose, but our teachers use a classroom-based assessment that give them rapid results and allow them to customize instruction to individual studentsí needs. Building a consistent reading foundation is part of the path we are on together in District 49. Whether we begin building or continue adjusting after the election next Tuesday, our plans are built on the commitment to give all our students what they need to succeed.In middle and high school, where students apply their reading skills to new fields of learning, our major initiative is called 49 Pathways. This spring, we will be hosting informational meetings around the district to present and discuss a new approach to individualized graduation requirements. Under new legislation from our stateís political leaders, Colorado is phasing out the model of credit-based graduation where every student had to take the same basic number and type of classes. In the new model, districts can phase in learning experiences like individualized projects, apprenticeships, college classes and more to put every student on an individualized pathway that prepares them for college and the workforce.Many districts are just beginning to explore the possibilities of this approach, but we are blessed in District 49 to have a portfolio of schools that have been working for years to provide distinct and exceptional options for all our students. We know that many of our graduates will attend and thrive in traditional four-year universities. But we also know that many of our graduates will learn meaningful skills through community college, military service, professional certifications, on-the-job training and many other opportunities to serve and lead. District 49 is committed to leading the way toward a future where every student is prepared, confident and productive.We are on a path where the readers, learners and leaders of District 49 will become the workers and leaders that make all our communities stronger. We will stay on that path regardless of the results of the current election. Our commitment to you is that we will serve every student who comes our way. We will give them the gift of reading and then nurture their gifts as they grow into confident learners and leaders. The path we are on may diverge briefly, but we will stay together and walk every child in our community to a great beginning at the end of their path. That is how we will live out our commitment to be the best district to learn, work, and lead. Thank you for the commitments we make together.

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