“We are changing lives.”
Dear DPS Community,
Yesterday, in a part of our city where a decade ago the schools were seen as among the worst in our state, I had the honor of standing with school leaders, teachers, students and community members who are showing Colorado what is possible.
“We are changing lives,” Manual High School Principal Nick Dawkins said, as he and other Near Northeast middle and high school principals described how their students are now making more academic progress than their classmates across the state.
This week, state education officials publicly released results of the 2017 Colorado Measures of Academic Success, also known as CMAS. And for the seventh year in a row, the results show, our kids are making stronger academic growth in English language arts and math than other students statewide.
In fact, our students posted record academic gains this year. And that growth was led by our students of color, students in poverty and English language learners, groups who have been historically underserved in schools in Denver and across the country.
“For anyone who doubted that this could work, we now know it does,” said McAuliffe at Manual Middle School Principal Jessica Long, standing alongside Dawkins and leaders from neighboring Bruce Randolph School and the Denver School of Science and Technology at the Cole campus.
Little more than a decade ago, state education officials shut down the former Cole Middle School for poor performance, the first and only school to be closed under a now-repealed state accountability law.
Then, our students lagged their peers in Colorado in literacy and math by 20 to 25 percentage points on a 100-point scale. Our academic growth wasn’t keeping up with state averages – meaning not only were our kids behind but they were falling further behind every year.
In 2005, we introduced the first district strategic plan, the Denver Plan. For the first time, in 2010, our kids began to outpace the state in their academic growth. They grew faster than their peers statewide every year, on every English test and every math assessment. Today, those gaps between our kids and the state are nearly gone.
We know it’s not nearly enough. Because while our kids are growing faster academically, they often start out behind and have farther to go to perform at grade level or higher.
But what’s happening inside our schools today is different. School leaders in Near Northeast Denver talked about opening their doors to their communities, academic rigor and focusing on creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking. They discussed building trust between teachers and students, and giving their neighborhoods the schools they wanted and deserved.
At Manual, Dean of Culture Chris DeRemer described tough conversations with every ninth-grader, “student by student, life by life.”
“We told students where they were without forgetting where they could go,” he said.
“We know growth is not enough,” he added. “It’s just the beginning. We can’t wait to begin our next school year on Monday.”
Want to get updates about the great things happening in DPS? Follow me on Twitter @SuptTomB.
We are kicking off the new school year with a new video series, DPS News Now! DPS News Now is a weekly recap of what’s happening in Denver schools — all in under a minute.
New videos will be posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo and YouTube every Friday. DPS News Now will also be available in Spanish as Lo último en DPS. To view the English and Spanish editions of this week’s video, please click on the images at right.
This week, we’re looking ahead of the first day of school and the solar eclipse. Denver Public Schools is also celebrating continued success in state exams, as well as tremendous progress in early literacy — a major part of Denver voters’ investment in the 2016 DPS Bond and Mill Levy.
On Thursday, Aug. 10, incoming sixth graders at Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences were surprised with their very own Chromebook laptop computers to kick off the new school year. These sixth graders are among the nearly 9,000 students in DPS who will be receiving a device to use for the upcoming school year. Our students are gaining more equitable access to educational technology thanks to Denver voters.
“Denver voters gave us a wonderful opportunity to give students access to tech beyond their school day,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg at the morning’s festivities. “Students will not only be able to use these devices at school. They will also be able to take them home.”
The district has invested $10 million in bond funds on an initiative called MyTech, which provides DPS students in 13 schools with a one-to-one personal computer.
Check out our new back-to-school website at backtoschool.dpsk12.org! This site is packed with helpful resources for families to find information on everything from applying for free and reduced meals, parent engagement opportunities, academic standards, transportation options and much more. Think of this as the one-stop shop for all your students’ back-to-school needs!
We know that the beginning of a new school year can get hectic so we encourage families to use this tool to make sure our students have the resources they need to start the 2017-18 school year strong!
Aug. 21: First Day of School for most DPS schools