First Person

Open enrollment deadlines coming up

It is down to the wire! This is the final week for open enrollment applications in some Colorado districts. Since each district is a little different, we have gathered information for the major Front Range districts. For more information on your particular district, visit its website, see the Colorado School Data Center or follow the links below. Or, watch this video interview with the person in charge of open enrollment in Denver. Also, check out this FAQ about choice in Denver published by Stand for Children.

Boulder Valley School District

Open enrollment deadline was Jan. 14. Click on this Boulder Valley website for more information. Some schools in the district are still having open enrollment events in the next couple days. Check your school’s website or follow the links below.

For a full description of the BVSD open enrollment process, visit the BVSD open enrollment home page.

Aurora Public School District

The open enrollment application period runs from Jan. 15 to May 1. The open enrollment forms are available at the schools, district admission offices or online. Submit the application at the school(s) you are interested in. The principal of the school is in charge of letting you know the status of your application. Students will be admitted based on space.

To visit a school, contact the school individually. Find information on the APS schools. For more information on the APS open enrollment process, click here.

Adams 12 Five Star School District

Priority deadline was Saturday, Jan. 15. Applications can be picked up at the schools and at the Education Support Center. The application is also available online at the district’s choice website. They must be dropped off at the Educational Support Center by Friday or postmarked Jan. 15 or earlier. The final deadline for submission is March 15. Acceptance is based on space and staff constraints. If the number of applications exceeds the spaces available, the district will hold a lottery.

For information on which Adams Five Star schools are accepting choice applications, click here. Adams is currently accepting applications for some of its specialized programs as well, so be sure to visit the district website to find out more.  Or call 720-972-2602.

Douglas Country School District

Application deadline was Tuesday, Jan. 18. The Dougco application is online or in paper form at all district schools. Parents are encouraged to submit their applications online. You can also peruse a list of schools accepting open enrollment applications.

For information on school visits, contact the individual schools. The district provides a directory on its website.  For more information, visit the choice enrollment website or call 303-387-0100.

Jefferson County School District

First round application deadline was Monday, Jan. 24. Jeffco has two rounds of open enrollment. First round applications are given priority in the lottery. Applications submitted in the second round are added to the school lists on a first-come, first-served basis. Students who are not accepted in the first round get a second chance in the second round.

The second round enrollment runs from Feb. 16 to Aug. 30. Applications are available at schools or online under “choice enrollment.” Jeffco schools are still holding interest nights for prospective students and their parents. For information, check here or contact the individual schools.

For more information on schools in the district, check their profiles on the district website.

Poudre School District

Sixth through 12th grade deadline is Friday, Jan. 28. The deadline for kindergarten through fifth grade is Friday, Feb. 11.

The application is available online or, if you want an application in Spanish, click here.  The deadlines above are first consideration deadlines, meaning that applications submitted later will be considered until the first day of classes.

Many PSD schools have open houses coming up. A schedule of open houses is posted online, but you can also schedule a visit by contacting the individual school. Learn more about the Poudre schools.

Denver Public Schools

First round applications are due Monday, Jan. 31.  First round applications are available by clicking on this link first round applications as well as at all DPS schools. Early childhood education and kindergarten applications are available at the early education webpage.

Click here to download and print the New Student Choice Application. Complete this form and take it to your desired school. If the school has space available, it will enroll you immediately. Click here to see which schools are “capped” – meaning they do not have space available.

Littleton Public Schools

Application deadline is Monday, Jan. 31. The Littleton application is available in all district schools or online. The application should be submitted at the school(s) you are interested in. Some schools will have additional forms so be sure to check in with the school you are interested in.

Contact the school you are interested in to schedule a visit. For more information, visit the Littleton open enrollment website.

Cherry Creek School District

Application deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 1. Cherry Creek applications are available at all schools and district admissions offices. You can fill one out and submit it on the spot. Find your local district admissions office. For information on school visits or open enrollment events, contact the individual schools. You can find a directory of all Cherry Creek schools as well as a school locator here.

For more information, contact the district admissions office at 720-554-4550.

Pueblo City Schools

Application period runs from Tuesday, Feb. 1, through Tuesday, June 7.

The application is available online and should be submitted to your school of choice. Applications are considered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Weld County School District 6 (Greeley-Evans)

Application deadline is 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Applications are available at district schools, the main district office and online. They must be turned in at your child’s current school or to the school you would like your child to attend by the deadline. Charter schools may have a different procedure and deadline, so if you interested in a charter school, be sure to check about any additional requirements.

The Greeley-Evans school district has established a Student Enrollment and Welcome Center to help new families transition into the district. They may be able to provide more information on good schools for your student’s academic needs. Visit the center website. For any additional open enrollment information, click here.

Colorado Springs School District 11

Application deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 15. The form is available online as well as at every school and at the district enrollment office. It must be turned into the school you are interested in. Each school has its own application and notification procedure, so be sure to contact the school for more information.

The district high schools are hosting open houses for current eighth grade students. Find the schedule. For more information about visiting schools, contact the individual schools. For more information on open enrollment and D-11 schools, click here.

(Document compiled by EdNews Parent intern Kate Schimel).

First Person

I’ve spent years studying the link between SHSAT scores and student success. The test doesn’t tell you as much as you might think.

PHOTO: Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Proponents of New York City’s specialized high school exam, the test the mayor wants to scrap in favor of a new admissions system, defend it as meritocratic. Opponents contend that when used without consideration of school grades or other factors, it’s an inappropriate metric.

One thing that’s been clear for decades about the exam, now used to admit students to eight top high schools, is that it matters a great deal.

Students admitted may not only receive a superior education, but also access to elite colleges and eventually to better employment. That system has also led to an under-representation of Hispanic students, black students, and girls.

As a doctoral student at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2015, and in the years after I received my Ph.D., I have tried to understand how meritocratic the process really is.

First, that requires defining merit. Only New York City defines it as the score on a single test — other cities’ selective high schools use multiple measures, as do top colleges. There are certainly other potential criteria, such as artistic achievement or citizenship.

However, when merit is defined as achievement in school, the question of whether the test is meritocratic is an empirical question that can be answered with data.

To do that, I used SHSAT scores for nearly 28,000 students and school grades for all public school students in the city. (To be clear, the city changed the SHSAT itself somewhat last year; my analysis used scores on the earlier version.)

My analysis makes clear that the SHSAT does measure an ability that contributes to some extent to success in high school. Specifically, a SHSAT score predicts 20 percent of the variability in freshman grade-point average among all public school students who took the exam. Students with extremely high SHSAT scores (greater than 650) generally also had high grades when they reached a specialized school.

However, for the vast majority of students who were admitted with lower SHSAT scores, from 486 to 600, freshman grade point averages ranged widely — from around 50 to 100. That indicates that the SHSAT was a very imprecise predictor of future success for students who scored near the cutoffs.

Course grades earned in the seventh grade, in contrast, predicted 44 percent of the variability in freshman year grades, making it a far better admissions criterion than SHSAT score, at least for students near the score cutoffs.

It’s not surprising that a standardized test does not predict as well as past school performance. The SHSAT represents a two and a half hour sample of a limited range of skills and knowledge. In contrast, middle-school grades reflect a full year of student performance across the full range of academic subjects.

Furthermore, an exam which relies almost exclusively on one method of assessment, multiple choice questions, may fail to measure abilities that are revealed by the variety of assessment methods that go into course grades. Additionally, middle school grades may capture something important that the SHSAT fails to capture: long-term motivation.

Based on his current plan, Mayor de Blasio seems to be pointed in the right direction. His focus on middle school grades and the Discovery Program, which admits students with scores below the cutoff, is well supported by the data.

In the cohort I looked at, five of the eight schools admitted some students with scores below the cutoff. The sample sizes were too small at four of them to make meaningful comparisons with regularly admitted students. But at Brooklyn Technical High School, the performance of the 35 Discovery Program students was equal to that of other students. Freshman year grade point averages for the two groups were essentially identical: 86.6 versus 86.7.

My research leads me to believe that it might be reasonable to admit a certain percentage of the students with extremely high SHSAT scores — over 600, where the exam is a good predictor —and admit the remainder using a combined index of seventh grade GPA and SHSAT scores.

When I used that formula to simulate admissions, diversity increased, somewhat. An additional 40 black students, 209 Hispanic students, and 205 white students would have been admitted, as well as an additional 716 girls. It’s worth pointing out that in my simulation, Asian students would still constitute the largest segment of students (49 percent) and would be admitted in numbers far exceeding their proportion of applicants.

Because middle school grades are better than test scores at predicting high school achievement, their use in the admissions process should not in any way dilute the quality of the admitted class, and could not be seen as discriminating against Asian students.

The success of the Discovery students should allay some of the concerns about the ability of students with SHSAT scores below the cutoffs. There is no guarantee that similar results would be achieved in an expanded Discovery Program. But this finding certainly warrants larger-scale trials.

With consideration of additional criteria, it may be possible to select a group of students who will be more representative of the community the school system serves — and the pool of students who apply — without sacrificing the quality for which New York City’s specialized high schools are so justifiably famous.

Jon Taylor is a research analyst at Hunter College analyzing student success and retention. 

First Person

With roots in Cuba and Spain, Newark student came to America to ‘shine bright’

PHOTO: Patrick Wall
Layla Gonzalez

This is my story of how we came to America and why.

I am from Mallorca, Spain. I am also from Cuba, because of my dad. My dad is from Cuba and my grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, and so on. That is what makes our family special — we are different.

We came to America when my sister and I were little girls. My sister was three and I was one.

The first reason why we came here to America was for a better life. My parents wanted to raise us in a better place. We also came for better jobs and better pay so we can keep this family together.

We also came here to have more opportunities — they do call this country the “Land Of Opportunities.” We came to make our dreams come true.

In addition, my family and I came to America for adventure. We came to discover new things, to be ourselves, and to be free.

Moreover, we also came here to learn new things like English. When we came here we didn’t know any English at all. It was really hard to learn a language that we didn’t know, but we learned.

Thank God that my sister and I learned quickly so we can go to school. I had a lot of fun learning and throughout the years we do learn something new each day. My sister and I got smarter and smarter and we made our family proud.

When my sister Amira and I first walked into Hawkins Street School I had the feeling that we were going to be well taught.

We have always been taught by the best even when we don’t realize. Like in the times when we think we are in trouble because our parents are mad. Well we are not in trouble, they are just trying to teach us something so that we don’t make the same mistake.

And that is why we are here to learn something new each day.

Sometimes I feel like I belong here and that I will be alright. Because this is the land where you can feel free to trust your first instinct and to be who you want to be and smile bright and look up and say, “Thank you.”

As you can see, this is why we came to America and why we can shine bright.

Layla Gonzalez is a fourth-grader at Hawkins Street School. This essay is adapted from “The Hispanic American Dreams of Hawkins Street School,” a self-published book by the school’s students and staff that was compiled by teacher Ana Couto.