D11 Insights

February 2023

The Heartbeat of Excellence

Since the first semester, our academic team has been working with school leaders and instructional staff to narrow our focus on a strategy we call Best First Instruction. You may have heard this term used in board meetings, school accountability meetings, or possibly in conversation with your child’s teacher or principal. The very basic definition of this term is that students will receive the very best instruction the first time they hear a lesson taught to alleviate the need for remedial instruction. That’s not to say teachers won’t work to help students understand concepts if they don’t fully understand them, but it is a way to deliver the best quality instruction to all students from the beginning.

As we reflect on the work in the first semester, I’m happy our mid-year assessment data shows that we have already started to see growth. Mid-year assessment data compare student academic progress from the beginning of the year to now. This growth for our district is important because it often takes more time to see gains across a large system. The best first instructional model, combined with other curricula and coaching, has significantly impacted student achievement. Some of the district-wide highlights that I want to share are:

  • In math, the number of “on track” students grew by five percent, while we shrunk the “did not yet meet” category by four percent;
  • Across the District, grades 4 and 5 met expected growth in math;
  • Across the District, grades 4,5,9,10, and 11 met the expected growth target in English Language Arts (ELA).

At the school level, there are several highlights. The schools with the most growth between the fall and winter assessments in ELA include Queen Palmer, Steele, Rudy, Bristol, Stratton, Holmes, Coronado, Odyssey, and Palmer. In math, Chipeta, Steele, Grant, Scott, Queen Palmer, Holmes, Sabin, Coronado, and Odyssey met or exceeded the expected growth overall.

In priority schools, grades 3 – 7 all grew the number of students scoring "on track" in math by between 5 to 9 percent. Sixteen out of 17 priority improvement schools showed improvement in math.

Next Steps

We still need to work on academic challenges, such as D11 students generally growing at slower rates than their peers around the country. There will be a continued focus on targeted professional learning that supports learners in skill development and application. After-school tutoring opportunities are launching across the district. In partnership with our schools, teachers, families, and the community, we will utilize the trifecta of best first instruction – planning for learning, rigor, and engagement.

We have sound instructional strategies and systems to address academic gaps. We have the school leaders and teachers in place that will move us forward and the resources needed to see even more gains when our state testing takes place this spring, and that data is released mid-summer. I expect to share greater academic successes as we progress through the second semester.

Excitedly yours,

Michael Gaal

D11 Loop Mass Notifications Update

In January, it was brought to the District's attention that a technical glitch in the D11 Loop Mass Notification System was to blame for the failure of several thousand messages not being delivered to D11 families, staff, and community members. We are very sorry for this inconvenience and immediately took steps to fix the situation.

We know our families, staff, and community rely on timely communication from our schools and the District, so please be sure to log into the D11 Loop system and ensure your contact email and phone number are up to date. The following information details how you may add text messaging to your notification preferences, as well as the D11 app. The delivery successes for texts and app push notifications are very high, so these options seem to be popular choices for many.

D11 Loop notifications are sent based on user account information and delivery preferences; users must log in to the D11 Loop/Blackboard and update their accounts.

Once logged in, click on "Account" in the upper right-hand corner. On the Account Information tab, verify the contact information is correct. To set your addresses for notifications, click "Add" in the Delivery Addresses section and choose the type of address to add to the account:

  • Text/SMS number
  • Email address
  • Mailing address

Click "Save" at the bottom of the page when finished.

After verifying the Delivery Addresses are correct, click on the Delivery Preferences tab to choose where notifications are sent. All Weather Notifications are sent as Other and can be activated by clicking on the desired icons. When you click on the text, phone, and email icons, it will expand to show the available contact numbers or addresses. You can then select or clear each option listed under that delivery method. Please note that due to the early hour, morning delay, and closure, notifications will not be sent out via phone messages.

Be sure to download the D11 App for another way to receive important messages from your school and the District!

How D11's Preschool Expansion Fits with Colorado's Universal Preschool Program

Earlier this school year, D11 made a proactive move better to serve the demand of preschool families in Colorado Springs. We have already cleared several preschool waiting lists by opening four new preschool classrooms at Chipeta, Scott, Audubon, and King Elementary Schools. The preschool expansion plan is currently on track to open up over 220 new preschool spots in eight school locations by the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

Decades worth of research shows that children who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than children who don't. Colorado recently introduced Universal Preschool, also called UPK, which is expanding more free preschool options for Colorado children. We are excited to join the state and welcome more preschoolers into our highly desirable preschool classrooms!

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New RFID Transportation Cards and a New App Are Here!

Earlier this school year, Colorado Springs School District 11 installed new Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card readers on all school buses. Students who ride the bus to and from school should now have new RFID cars and will be instructed to "tap" their cards on the reader as they enter and exit the bus.

As part of this new technology, there is also an app called MyView that works with the bus card readers and our current GPS system. This app will allow parents/guardians to get a notification letting them know the student has entered or exited the bus whenever the reader reads their student’s card. In addition, the app will allow parents/guardians to track their student’s bus location based on the route.

If your student rides a D11 bus, you will soon receive more detailed communication from the D11 Transportation Department on how to use the MyView app.

Here are some of the key features of the MyView app:

  • View a real-time, map-based bus locator

  • Create custom zones for each stop and facility

  • Send email alerts and SMS messages

  • Available on smartphones and tablets

D11 Energy and Sustainability Program Update

Twenty-three years ago, the District 11 Board of Education committed to responsibly managing natural gas, electricity, and water use in District 11 facilities. Since that day, the District Energy and Sustainability Program has continually pursued ways to increase our buildings' energy and water efficiency.

On February 8th, the Board of Education approved a contract to have the majority of District buildings audited for energy savings opportunities. Schneider Electric will conduct a thorough inspection of these buildings and generate a list of recommended efficiency projects. This is an exciting opportunity for the District to have a team of experts examining our facilities to find opportunities to make them more efficient. This initiative will lead to implementation of many energy conservation measures at our buildings and ultimately curb the rising cost of our utility bills.

Click Energy & Sustainability to learn more about these efforts in District 11, and

Follow this link to read our FY 21-22 Energy & Sustainability Annual Report online.