The state’s relatively new report-card system for grading teachers and schools,, utilizes performance standards that were approved by Colorado legislators last year. In its latest report, just 14 of the 111 schools ranked as accredited or higher receive a rating of “distinction,” writes The Associated Press. But Governor Bill Ritter defends SchoolView against the old system, which used statewide tests as the basis of measurement, because SchoolView also takes into account barometers such as academic growth and career development. (In our September rundown of the area’s top elementary schools, SchoolView statistics factored into 5280’s methodology.) Yet Jane Urschel, the associate executive director of the Colorado Association of School Boards, thinks the reports stigmatize schools.

The latest top districts are: Littleton Public Schools, Academy School District 20, Aspen School District 1, Cheyenne Mountain School District 12, Expeditionary BOCES (Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning), Hinsdale County School District RE-1, Kiowa County School District C-2, Lewis-Palmer School District 38, Ouray Public Schools R-1, Plateau School District RE-5, Prairie School District RE-11, Ridgway School District R-2, Steamboat Springs School District RE-2, and the Telluride School District. Jim Reiner, a fifth-grade teacher at Centennial Academy of Fine Arts, part of Littleton Public Schools, tells 9News technology gives his students the edge: They all have netbooks.