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Colorado Partnership Launches Community Collaboration for School Innovation Toolkit


New framework catalyzes community input on 21st century education

Cupertino, CA — February 2, 2016 — A unique partnership among the Colorado Department of Education, The Colorado Education Initiative, and The Learning Accelerator, today released an action-oriented toolkit that helps school districts understand the importance of community collaboration as a key to innovation. The free guide includes real-world case studies from Colorado school districts, video tutorials, and templates, and aims to accelerate school innovation and 21st Century learning that authentically reflects community priorities.

The Community Collaboration for School Innovation toolkit was created for districts as they begin the important work of shifting away from a community engagement model that centers around the district pushing information out, to a new community collaboration model that instead encourages the district to pull in guidance and directives from the community, and leverage that input to drive innovations. This new model is critical as school districts look for innovative and effective ways to meet the growing challenges facing public education in the 21st century.

“Innovation requires creating new ideas, and more importantly requires collective commitment to evolve and go to scale,” said Lisa Duty, Partner at The Learning Accelerator. “The development of new competency-based and blended learning models benefit from empowered people, networks, and more open innovation.”

In early 2015, the Colorado Department of Education, The Colorado Education Initiative, and The Learning Accelerator invited two Colorado districts to pilot this new model in their local communities — Archuleta #50 JT in Pagosa Springs and District 51 in Mesa County. The early lessons from these two pilot districts are the basis for the Community Collaboration for School Innovation toolkit, a resource that will continue to evolve as districts are able to use, own, and adapt it to meet the needs of their unique communities.

“The work of Archuleta and Mesa 51 is really exciting,” said Gretchen Morgan, Interim Associate Commissioner - Innovation, Choice, and Engagement Division, at the CO Department of Education. “These two districts maximized the opportunity to engage with their communities about graduation expectations. They went into the process believing that educators can and should learn from their communities about the variety of competencies required to be a successful young adults across industry areas.”

“We know that the vast majority of districts in Colorado cannot afford to have a communications team, or even a communications person,” explained Morgan. “We also understand that facilitating this level of community discourse is challenging. So we were pleased to be able to invest, not only in these two districts, but in the creation of a universal set of tools based on their experience. We hope many Colorado school districts, and districts across the country, choose to engage in this process this way.”

By using the new framework and toolkit, districts will better understand their community’s perspective on questions like these:

• What do graduates from this school district need in the 21st century to be successful?
• How do we prepare the students in this district for a rapidly changing economy?
• How do we ensure that all students are being well served in our district?
• What do you hope and expect students in this district will know and be able to do?
• What could learning environments in this district look like to ensure that students are prepared for the world once they graduate?

“We know public schools are evolving to be more responsive to the needs of students, teachers, and Colorado communities in the 21st century — so is CEI,” said Samantha Olson, vice president of Strategic Learning, The Colorado Education Initiative. “We are proud to invest along with strategic partners in tools that help educators and communities imagine what’s possible and then try it — to accelerate educational improvement and innovation in Colorado schools.”


For more information, please contact Lisa Duty, The Learning Accelerator, at 614.806.0607

The Learning Accelerator is the catalyst to transform American K-12 education through blended learning on a national scale. See more at www.learningaccelerator.org. What is blended learning? Watch this brief video.
As a dynamic service agency, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) provides leadership, resources, support, and accountability to the state’s 178 school districts, 1,836 schools, and over 56,000 educators to help them build capacity to meet the needs of the state’s over 889,000 public school students. CDE also provides services and support to boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES), early learning centers, state correctional schools, facility schools, the state’s libraries, adult/family literacy centers, and the Colorado Talking Book Library. In addition, CDE provides structural and administrative support to the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind and the Charter School Institute.
The Colorado Education Initiative is an independent non-profit that collaborates with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), schools and districts across the state to accelerate achievement for all Colorado students. We believe every student can reach his or her full potential with the right set of supports. This means that every student in Colorado is prepared and unafraid to succeed in school, work, and life, and to take on the challenges of today, tomorrow, and beyond. Our innovative partnership with CDE and schools and districts in communities across Colorado help us find innovative ways to reach every learner, every day.
Learn more: A Playlist for State Leaders Ready to Catalyze Blended LearningStudent-Centered Learning Thrives in a Culture of Innovation