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Rise & Shine: After criticism, Denver will change how it rates elementary schools

Good morning and welcome to the working week.

I hope those of you who got a three-day weekend were able to enjoy it, cold temperatures and slick roads aside. Stay warm out there, and drive carefully.

We've got an update on the pushback Denver received to its school ratings back in December. The district is going to increase the number of students in early grades who must score at grade-level on early literacy tests for a school to earn points but decrease how many points those scores will be worth. Critics seem pleased.

Over the weekend, a Republican committee chose former State Board of Ed member Debora Scheffel to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Pam Mazanec. This doesn't change the balance of power on the board of education.

And the perennial conversation – "what is to be done?" – continued in the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. This conversation, unfortunately, has particular resonance in Colorado.

Read on.

– Erica Meltzer, bureau chief

RIGHT MEASURE After civil rights groups criticized how Denver Public Schools rates elementary schools – charging that the ratings obscured poor results in early literacy – the district made changes to its system. Chalkbeat

BACK IN THE SADDLE A Republican vacancy committee chose Debora Scheffel by acclamation to serve the rest of Pam Mazanec’s term on the State Board of Education. Scheffel previously represented the 6th Congressional District on the board, but lost that seat to Democrat Rebecca McClellan in 2016. Chalkbeat

HAIR OF THE DOG Schools in Arkansas are still suspending students for truancy, which seems maybe just a little contradictory, even though state law bans it. Chalkbeat

DANGER ZONE Some Colorado schools are participating in a program called “Hot Spot Mapping” in which students circle on a map the places in their school building where they feel unsafe. Schools have added lights and security cameras and even moved locker rooms in response to the findings. CBS 4

AFTERMATH After a 2013 shooting at Arapahoe High School left two dead, Colorado passed a law that holds schools liable for missing warning signs. The result has been a big increase in threat assessments, and the process sometimes requires schools to shift out of the mindset that their job is to help students. CPR

A former North High student wrote an open letter to Kyle Clark explaining why he could have been a school shooter and what made the difference. 9 News

Reports to Colorado’s Safe2Tell hotline have increased in 2018. Fox 31

State Sen. Larry Crowder, a Republican from Alamosa, wants to ask voters to pay for an armed guard at every Colorado school. Pueblo Chieftain

Teachers traded DIY tips for protecting their students from shooters on Twitter. The Trace

A Fort Collins company makes bullet-resistant shields that children can carry in their backpacks. ABC 7