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Press Release: Denver Citizens Group Releases Sharp Critique of Denver and Aurora High Schools

For Immediate Release
April 11, 2013 at 6:00AM MST

Media Contact
Van Schoales, CEO, A+ Denver
(303) 725-1151

Denver Citizens Group Releases Sharp Critique of Denver and Aurora High Schools
A+ Dever calls for radical redesign of urban high schools
Despite reports that more Denver and Aurora students are college-bound, a brief issued today maintains that they are far from college-ready. The report maintains that even though more students are graduating high school and taking college-level (AP) classes, academic performance has hardly budged—and many students graduate well below grade level. The problem is particularly pronounced among low-income and minority students.
Among the findings:
  • At six Denver high schools fewer than 1 in 5 students pass the AP exam with a 3, 4 or 5
  • More than half of students from Denver and Aurora must first take remedial classes before enrolling in credit-bearing college classes
  • Based on Denver’s and Aurora’s remediation rates, just seventeen of every 100 students who enroll will graduate college in four years
  • 25% of Latinos and 24% of African American DPS Juniors score 19 or above on the ACT, while 74% of DPS’ white students do
  • In Aurora, 39% of low income students score lower than a 15 on the ACT, compared to 23% of non-low income students
  • 43% of low income students in DPS score less than a 15 on the ACT – the equivalent to a qualifying score for basic military service
  • Denver School of Science and Technology is thus far the only Denver or Aurora high school beating the odds for low income and minority students on every college-readiness indicator
“We see from the high remediation rates and low ACT scores that college-bound is not the same as college-ready. Despite years of trying to fix high schools, students are still not graduating academically prepared for college level work,” said Van Schoales, CEO of A+ Denver.
The report recommends completely redesigning high schools based on successful local and national models, not just adding programs or tinkering with reforms. To address the problem in more detail, A+ Denver will be hosting a half-day summit with national and local experts in high school design on April 24th. Details can be found at