Dear DPS Community,
Thank you to everyone for your continued support of students, many of whom have already returned to in-person learning. Whether attending school in-person or continuing with remote learning, students in DPS have a strong network of support, and I am proud of the work we’ve done to continue meeting the needs of students with a focus on equity.
As we gradually continue welcoming secondary students back for in-person learning through February 1, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the successes we’ve seen as a district in preparing students for post-secondary success, and share areas where we will continue to work on improvement.
We’ve made great strides in better preparing our students for success after high school. DPS continues to increase the number of students taking post-secondary readiness (PSR) courses, with students taking more than 31,000 PSR courses in 2019-2020, a 13% increase over the last year. We also saw an 11% increase and a 10% increase in the number of Black and Hispanic students, respectively, accessing one or more PSR courses. Students enrolled in PSR courses engage in rigorous work aligned with college and higher education standards and expectations — and they are well-positioned to be on track for graduation by fulfilling credit and competency requirements.
Additionally, the number of students taking AP exams increased, with 58% of students earning a qualifying score in 2020 – a dramatic increase compared to 49% earning a qualifying score in 2019. Students who earn a qualifying score in an AP course exam or portfolio can potentially receive college credit, tuition savings, and an opportunity to enroll in more advanced courses in that field in college.
Our educators also provided opportunities for nearly 5,000 students to earn college credit through Concurrent/Dual Enrollment in 2020, an increase of 13% compared to the last year. These are college-level courses that expose students to the academic challenges of college while they’re still in their high school’s familiar, supportive environment. Students earn free college credit with a passing grade, saving time and money and getting a head start on their post-secondary goals. Concurrent enrollment classes are offered at all high schools in DPS, allowing all students access to college courses in high school.
Many thanks to all of the educators and school leaders for this phenomenal achievement, and congratulations to our students!
One of the most important measures of our success as a school district is how well we are preparing our students to make a great future for themselves. That starts, of course, with helping to ensure they reach the graduation stage. For the DPS Class of 2020, our four-year, on-time graduation rate increased to 74.6%–a 3.7 percentage point increase from the previous year. Rates increased for almost all student groups by race and ethnicity. Rates for African American students increased 2.8 percentage points to 71.1%, and the graduation rates for Latino students increased 4.6 percentage points to 72.6%. The Class of 2020 was the first to be hit by the hardships created by COVID-19, and in order to support these students and their families, we offered a waiver process that allowed seniors who were short of up to 30 credits to graduate. Roughly 8% of students in our Class of 2020 received a waiver for graduation.
The gradual return to in-person learning for secondary students will allow us to continue the work of setting our students up for post-secondary success. I am grateful that we have been able to proceed with safely reopening our schools, as in-person support will help us further our goals. There is still much work to be done to support Hispanic and Black students who are under-represented in PSR courses and behind their peers in on-time graduation rates. While Black students comprised 14% of the overall DPS population, they only accounted for 11% of students in PSR course enrollment. Similarly, Hispanic students comprised 57% of the overall enrollment, but only accounted for 52% of the PSR course enrollments.
With equity as our guiding value, we’re committed to continuing our progress and providing the support that’s needed to clear a path to a great future for all of our students.
Deputy Superintendent of Academics