We were thrilled to see the Denver School Board release the “Denver Plan 2020.” As you probably know, A+ Denver has redefined “squeaky wheel” when it comes to insisting on a revised district strategic plan. This is because we are still three decades from moving all kids to grade level at the current rate, and we know we need clarity for everyone from teachers to legislators about how to pick up this pace. The new plan’s goals are focused on critical milestones and appropriately focus on providing a well-rounded education.
The goals are: (1) Provide a great school in every neighborhood, (2) by 2020, 80% of kids will be reading at 3rd grade level, (3) by 2020, 90% of students will graduate and twice as many will be college-ready as are today, (4) we will focus on the whole child, and (5) we will focus on closing the achievement gaps.
A+ Denver congratulates the Denver School Board for narrowing the focus from earlier Denver Plans that had nearly 50 goals to these five.
Few happy surprises accompanied Colorado state test scores this year. There were some slight improvements in Denver along with mostly flat scores for the rest of Colorado.
While not all charter schools did well this year, DSST is keeping the bar raised for mid to high poverty schools (highest ACT scores for low-income students in Colorado). Read the editorial from yesterday in the Denver Post here. Notably, several district-managed schools like McMeen and DCIS at Fairmont also showed impressive results.
Were there trends in which schools did well between 2013-2014? We didn’t see any. Scores among big and small schools, charter and non charters seemed to flop around a bit from ’13 to ’14. There were very few schools that made consistent improvement for more than several years. The scores called into question some key investments in literacy (reading scores were flat despite additional resources and focus on early literacy) and in far Northeast, where millions have been spent on school turnarounds, leadership, new schools, etc. we saw next to no overall improvement from last year.
Why the lukewarm results? There is an excellent interview with Tom Boasberg’s two deputies: Susanna Cordova and Alyssa Whitehead-Bust in which both do a nice job of describing some of the wins and challenges in the district.
How to move forward? A+ Denver is asking DPS to do a deep review of what is and is not working so that the district can move beyond the incremental improvement and be in a position to meet the goals set out by the school board last month.
A+ Denver Updates
A+ is excited to welcome two new team members: Stephanie Gordon and Lisa Birdie.
Ms. Birdie, an Ed Pioneer, will be taking on a Policy Analyst role. A Colorado native, Ms. Birdie has been working in D.C. as a management consultant for CEB. She holds a degree in International Development from Brown University where she completed her thesis on the educational attainment of Hispanic youth in Providence.
Ms. Gordon joins us from the AmeriCorps VISTA program. She will be supporting our communication and research efforts. She is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan and holds a degree in Elementary Education.
Keep an eye out for our 2014 report on the state of Denver Public Schools, followed by what we hope will be a thought provoking report on which Colorado high schools send the most students to the most selective colleges
Fall Membership Drive
Our members are leaders in the community who are passionate about improving public education in Denver. If you, or someone you know, would make a great member please nominate them below. Anyone who successfully nominates a new member will receive an A+ Denver coffee mug!