Our DPS Weekly: Our Annual Report on School Performance

Oct. 11, 2019
Two Valverde Elementary students smile for the camera
Students smile together at Valverde Elementary, which earned a green overall rating on this year's SPF.

Dear Team DPS,


Today is the day when schools all across our district receive their 2019 School Performance Framework (SPF) results — our annual performance report on our schools. (The reports are now publicly available at Each school gets an annual SPF report, which measures many important aspects of what we know makes a great school – like how much students are growing academically each year, how many students are at or above grade level, how well the school serves and challenges all of its students, and how satisfied students and families are with the culture and climate of their school.


It is, essentially, our report card on how our schools are doing.


While we have made much progress in DPS, we know we still have much work to do, especially to improve opportunities for our historically underserved students. Our 2019 SPF ratings reflect both that progress and the work that lies in front of us to meet our shared goals.


I believe that it is vitally important that we hold high expectations for all students in our city. Our performance expectations for our schools are aligned with our beliefs about the academic potential that all students bring with them to our schools and what we need to do to ensure all students are lifted to achieve in the classroom and thrive in life.


We’ve set standards in our SPF at a higher level than what the Colorado Department of Education has established in its own SPF. We have a stronger equity focus, because we know that families in Denver want — and deserve — high-quality schools that serve all kids well. This year, we have continued to raise the bar for our schools and students in several key ways:


  • Higher bar for grade-level proficiency: We’ve kept our strong emphasis on year-to-year academic growth, but this year, we’ve also raised the bar for schools to be accountable for academic proficiency — getting students to grade-level, which means they’re on track academically and on target to graduate with lots of options for career and college. Last year, we raised expectations for elementary and middle schools, and this year, we raised expectations for high schools on the measures reviewing PSAT and SAT status.


  • Higher bar for keeping students on track to graduate: We closely aligned the On-Track to Graduation status measure of the SPF with our graduation requirements. While the prior version was based on simple total of credits earned by a student, the new approach helps ensure that students are meeting graduation requirements and earning the credits they need to graduate.


  • Higher bar for post-graduation preparedness: We increased the weight of measures and points on the high school SPF dedicated to reviewing how well students are prepared for college-level work without needing remedial courses.


It’s important to understand the new, higher standards we have set when reviewing the school ratings this year. It did cause a significant number of schools to receive a lower rating. Again, our focus is on setting the right standards, helping schools meet them, and learning from the schools that are excelling so that their strategies can help drive stronger improvement across the city.


And, as part of our efforts to transform DPS into an equity school district focused on collaboration and instructional excellence, we have launched the Reimagine the SPF Committee, which is made up of 30 community members, parents, teachers, school leaders and staff. The committee will share its recommendations in the spring of 2020, and DPS will begin to implement an updated SPF in the fall of 2021. We’ve worked hard to make the SPF a fair and accurate measure of our schools’ performance since creating it in 2008, and this collaboration with our educators and community is an important step in continuing to make improvements.


Next week, I will be visiting some of our schools and talking with teachers and leaders about the work they’ve done, what they’ve learned and how we all can continue to improve how we serve students and families. I look forward to hearing from our educators about their celebrations and challenges, and to sharing more with you about some of our “schools to learn from,” who are leading the way in ensuring every student in DPS thrives — by design.


Warm regards,