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A Very Positive Report Card for Our Schools

Students at Escalante-Biggs Academy in Far Northeast Denver.
Students at Escalante-Biggs Academy in Far Northeast Denver.

“Of the nearly 300 school districts in the United States serving at least 25,000 students, DPS has had the second-highest academic growth in the nation.”

Dear DPS Community,

Supt. Tom Boasberg

Supt. Tom Boasberg

Over the past decade, we’ve worked hard together to improve our schools.

A key part of this work has been a relentless willingness to ask: How can we get better? And, what changes do we need to make to help us better support our students and teachers?

This week, we took some time to get answers. Education Resource Strategies (ERS) is the nation’s leading research organization specializing in analyzing the performance and direction of urban school districts. The group recently completed their independent analysis of our schools and shared it with us Wednesday. Read the report here.

As the report highlights, here’s what we’ve accomplished together:

  • Of the nearly 300 school districts in the United States serving at least 25,000 students, DPS has had the second-highest academic growth in the nation.
  • This rapid growth means that DPS students on average were a full grade ahead of where DPS students were four years previously.
  • DPS is showing more strategic alignment in prioritizing its push to drive student-achievement gains than any other urban district analyzed by ERS.

The results and the strategies are connected.

The report highlights that we’ve been a standout district for recruiting, developing and retaining great teachers, including the development of our teacher leadership program (which we were just recognized for this past week in a national showcase in Texas).

It notes how we have moved aggressively to empower our schools in a more flexible and innovative approach. And, it stresses that our push for equity and quality among all public schools — both district-run and charter — has made a difference in student achievement.

And the support and partnership of our families and our entire community has been an essential part of making this progress. Thank you for the commitment to our schools, our children and our city’s future. The discussions and decisions around bringing dramatic changes and improvements to a school system are not easy. They can tear communities apart. Or the community can come together around what binds us: our best hopes for our kids.

That’s the horizon. As the report also notes, we have much more work to do. Large gaps to erase. Barriers to move aside. We look forward to that journey together with you.

Best,
Tom


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Denver Board Seeks Discipline Reform for DPS’ Youngest Students

discipline-video

DPS leaders and partners at the March 15 announcement at Godsman Elementary. Click to watch the video.

DPS hopes to dramatically reduce suspensions and eliminate expulsions of students in Early Childhood Education through third grade from any DPS school or program, thanks to a proposed change to the discipline policy being driven by the Board of Education.

The plan offers a more equitable approach to discipline by focusing on creating and maintaining more positive learning environments in schools and ensuring that there is a greater focus on corrective, instructive and restorative practices to keep students in the classroom.

The goal was announced Wednesday at an event held at Godsman Elementary in Southwest Denver, where DPS leaders and community members celebrated this change designed to support our youngest learners. And Thursday, board members unanimously passed a resolution (English and Spanish) supporting the change and calling for a 60-day feedback period to hear from parents, community members, teachers and school leaders. Focus groups and community meetings are being scheduled, and an email —DisciplineReform@dpsk12.org — has been created to collect input.

“Our first concern is the safety of all students and we believe that our youngest students deserve to be with skilled, caring teachers when they are learning to deal with challenging behaviors,” said Board of Education Vice President Barbara O’Brien. “We are committed to keeping children learning in our schools, especially at such a young age.”

DPS has been at the forefront of discipline reform nationally. Over the last decade, DPS has reduced its suspension and expulsion rates by more than two-thirds.

Learn more about the proposed change here, and watch this DPS Features video about why DPS and our partners believe it will positively impact our kids, particularly our students of color.

Check out the media coverage, too: CBS4, Chalkbeat, 9News, Telemundo Denver, ABC7, CW2, Fox31 and KOA Radio.


SchoolChoice Shows Strong Results for Another Year

Speaking on what SchoolChoice has personally meant to them at Merrill Middle School on March 10, pictured left to right: Merrill PTSA President Becky Wiggins, student Jael Iyema, Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova and Principal Christina Sylvester.

Speaking on what SchoolChoice has personally meant to them at Merrill Middle School on March 10, pictured left to right: Merrill PTSA President Becky Wiggins, student Jael Iyema, Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova and Principal Christina Sylvester.

Students were placed in their most-preferred schools in high numbers as DPS marked the end of another successful enrollment season. Round one ofSchoolChoice wrapped up last week with the district sending out more than 25,000 letters and emails notifying our families of their students’ school assignments for the 2017-18 school year.

For the sixth year in a row, DPS provided students with equitable access to all schools through its unique and nationally-renowned enrollment process, which the Brookings Institution has rated No. 1 in the country for school choice.

The goal of SchoolChoice is to level the playing field by giving all DPS students equal access to a high-quality education, regardless of their address or socio-economic background. Learn more about DPS SchoolChoice match rates and participation rates here.

Round two of SchoolChoice begins March 20, designed for families who did not participate in round one, or who participated in round one but want to re-explore their options. Round two is operated at the school level on a first-come, first-served basis. To participate, fill out the round two form, available at all DPS schools and downloadable at schoolchoice.dpsk12.org, and take the form directly to the most preferred school or schools that have remaining availability for the 2017-18 school year.


‘Topping-off’ Ceremony Marks Completion of $5 Million Bond Project

Students left their mark on the McGlone beam.

Students left their mark on the McGlone beam.

DPS educators, students and families Tuesday signed their names onto a steel beam in the new addition to McGlone Academy. The beam, which boldly shares DPS’ vision Every Child Succeeds, was decorated with students’ hand prints, signatures and well-wishes from the McGlone community during the ceremony.

The “topping off” commemorated the completion of the $5 million project for the Far Northeast Denver school. The project included a 12,428-square-foot addition, providing 10 new classrooms, a parking lot expansion, and 21st-century building and playground upgrades.

The ceremony highlights one of the final projects made possible through more than $500 million from the voter-approved 2012 bond.


Coming Up…


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