In August we launched our new strategic roadmap, which outlines our vision for a new DPS experience. An experience that centers our students, with an intentional commitment to our marginalized students, while also elevating the experience of our adults. It is a roadmap that recognizes the role of systems in creating equity in education and justice in society. One that will turn our vision that Every Learner Thrives into a reality.
The start of something new signifies an end to something else, and that something else was the Denver Plan 2020, which was paused during the pandemic, but outlined five specific goals, one of which was partially met.
As we know, data shows a snapshot of a moment in time. We know student success is measured by a variety of data points, a body of evidence that includes both qualitative and quantitative data. As you can see, due to many factors including the pandemic, we did not reach the goals outlined in the Denver Plan 2020, similar to national trends. However, since then we have been making strides to “get better at getting better.”
In November 2021, Denver Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) identified five ends policies in order to support their vision that every child reaches their full potential. Ends Policies are the long-term goals that are established by the BOE. They are aspirational in nature and allow the superintendent to have the freedom to choose the means by which he can achieve such goals. The ends policies include: 1.1 Equity, 1.2 Teaching and Learning, 1.3 Student and Staff Well-Being, 1.4 Health and Safety, and 1.5 Post Graduation and Global Citizenship. These ends policies were a critical input, along with extensive community engagement and feedback, to the creation of our new strategic roadmap, DPS Thrives.
Executive Limitations have also been identified by the Board of Education and are the guardrails for the superintendent’s means to achieving the Ends Policies. As stated above, the superintendent can choose any means for accomplishing the Ends goals except for those outlined in the Executive Limitations. For example, the Superintendent must comply with all local, state, and federal laws in achieving the goals.
Oftentimes, the Executive Limitations are viewed as the Board’s values.
What is different this year?
- The Ends policies and the Executive Limitations policies are being reviewed by the BOE and should be completed by the end of October.
- These reviews will serve as refinements for the existing Ends policies so that the Superintendent can be more detailed in his Reasonable Interpretation of these policies as he establishes regular monitoring reports of his progress toward achieving the Ends policies.
- We are implementing a new Ends policy on Sustainability, curated with the support of our student body.
- As we emerge further from the pandemic, the language of existing policies will change. There will be more of a focus on recovering from the impact of the pandemic on student learning.
- DPS’ past history indicates that the previous strategies that had been implemented were ineffective in moving the needle for a variety of measures. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” Thus, innovative strategies will need to be at the forefront of many of the actions taken by my team to achieve the outcomes we desire.
- The Executive Limitations will be monitored for the 22-23 school year and beyond as part of the Superintendent’s evaluation. Monitoring reports will be submitted to the Board for each of the 17 Executive Limitations.
- Monitoring reports are focused on outcomes rather than progress toward the goal. This level of accountability requires a laser focus on outcomes while minimizing distractions.
- Reasonable Interpretations for each of the Executive Limitations will be proposed by the Superintendent and voted on by the BOE.
- Superintendent will be evaluated on an array of measures, this year a total of 36 measures tied to Ends policies, and several others tied to Executive Limitations.
We know what our students need. We know in order to implement DPS Thrives with fidelity, we will need to “get better at getting better.” We will need to abandon outdated practices that are not getting us the results our students deserve. We will need to be innovative in our approach and implement new ways of thinking and doing in DPS. We also know that we can not do it alone. We need your support and most importantly, we need you!
My Ask: As a member of our DPS community, I ask you to lean in to support the vision and mission of DPS. The past two years have shown us that in crisis, we are stronger together as a community. Lean in and support our teachers and administrators. To our corporate community, partner with us to support your employees in supporting our students. To our families, lean in and volunteer at a school close to your home or close to your place of employment. Lean in and commit to reading with your child or a neighbor’s child each day. Research shows that just 15-minutes of reading each day accelerates reading growth in a child. Lean in and ensure your child and the children around you are attending school each day. Children learn best when in school.
As we embark on this journey, we know that we will be forming new partnerships and exploring new ways to enable students to thrive. We have high aspirations for all students and are confident that we will make our goal of Every Learner Thrives a reality together.
Dr. Alex Marrero