Will doubling down on reforms avert COVID classroom crisis?

By: | August 10, 2021

On Jan. 27, 2021, Superintendent Michael Thomas notified the staff of Colorado Springs’ Mitchell High School that all of them would be released from their positions at the end of the academic year.

They were free to reapply, but major changes were in store. The teachers, classroom aides, custodians and others who wanted to come back in August should be prepared to implement an ambitious plan to increase student achievement.

Mitchell had been among the state’s lowest-performing schools for at least 15 years, during which time it saw precipitous enrollment declines.

It was exactly the challenge Thomas had been tasked with addressing in 2018, when he was recruited by Colorado Springs School District 11 to helm an ambitious effort to improve the quality of its schools. He started by asking for data on how students were doing — and was astonished to learn that the district used only aggregated averages of all students, rather than specific information about different subgroups.

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