These posts are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.

July Newsletter: Keeping you informed about A+ Denver

Back to School Members Meeting

We know summer has just barely begun, but mark your calendar for an A+ members meeting onSeptember 4th from 8am – 10am (location TBD). We will meet with Superintendent Boasberg to reflect on the past school years progress, hear the focus for the coming years and have a chance to discuss our objectives with him (and members of the school board).

What’s been cooking this summer?

Movie Night

In June, A+ Denver, Insignia Partners, Get Smart Schools, DFER, Colorado Succeeds, Colorado Children’s Campaign, YEP Colorado and Stand for Children hosted a screening of 56 UP – a documentary about kids growing up in England. For the 150 plus of you who joined (late into the night), thank you for a great conversation with Dan Drayer, Howie Movshovitz, Jon Hanover and Stacey Bosick. If you missed it, you can read about it here.

Good governance

Reacting to public frustration about school board meetings and processes, A+ is launching a board accountability project this fall. Based on Pittsburgh’s “Board Watch,” a group of volunteers will “grade” the Board’s governance practices using a rubric that tracks both content (such as adherence to an agenda that puts kids first) and process. We will also be launching a new web page with board votes and all things related to the DPS board including the upcoming election.  Watch for more information about how you can help implement this groundbreaking project!

Off to the races.

As you have probably heard, Denver school board races have gotten on track much earlier than in past years. So far, races include:

Southwest: Rosario De Baca, Andrea Merida, Rosemary Rodriguez

Central: Mike Johnson, Meg Schomp

Northeast: Landri Taylor, Roger Kilgore

At-large: Mike Kiley, Barbara O’Brien

A+ will release a candidate survey and host candidate debates this fall.

Shout Outs

School Finance

Congratulations to Sen Mike Johnston and his team, the bill’s sponsors and all of the groups that worked tirelessly to pass a bill to modernize Colorado’s school finance system. If passed, this new school finance system will have a huge positive impact on Denver and Colorado’s kids. A+ worked hard to ensure that this bill included both more funding and reform measures to ensure it will have an impact on student achievement.

A+ strongly supports the accompanying ballot measure and will press for a strong accountability component to make sure achievement improves with more resources (Press Release). We need your help and ask you to support the campaign, Colorado Commits to Kids. Sign the petition and reach out to others to support what will be the most reform orientated school finance system in the nation.


In case you missed it, National Center for Teacher Quality released a report that was downloaded so often it crashed their server. The Atlantic sums it up here. Notably, no Colorado programs made the Honor Role. This report had a number of limitations primarily because we have next to NO outcome data on teacher preparation programs so NCTQ had to rely on “input” data about programs which as we have said many times is problematic. Nevertheless, this report, like many others, clearly shows we need to radically change teacher (and principal) training.

Mentions and Blogs

DFER blog: The long and winding road to school finance reform in Colorado: five key lessons by Van Schoales

Ed News Colorado Voices: Is today’s high school diploma the equivalent of Weimar republic money?by Van Schoales

Ed News Colorado Voices: Good high schools – choice and opportunity by Van Schoales

Denver Post article: New Denver Public Schools remedial classes aimed at college success.

Education Reform Now blog: Testing 1, 2, 3 by Sari Levy.

On tap for fall

A closer look at enrollment practices and policies: now that the mechanics of the new enrollment system seem to be working fairly well, is it translating into better options for kids?

Annual data scan of how schools are doing on key academic measures and a close look at Denver’s (and the state’s) turnaround schools.

Book talk with Paul Hill, Strife and Progress, Portfolio Strategies for Managing Urban Schools. Dr. Hill will share his perspective on Denver and effective management strategies for managing urban districts.

A special thanks to our Summer Urban Leader Fellow Kyle Cooper. He has been the team leader on our board watch project. We are pleased that he will return to teaching high school science in August but sad to see him leave A+.