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

Stay Sharp Newsletter: January 2018

stay sharp

We are always excited about the possibilities that a new year brings and 2018 promises to be a busy year for education in Colorado. In the next few months, A+ Colorado will be releasing several reports that summarize key findings, engaging in key equity and data transparency advocacy, and holding our first “How We Elevate” event.   

Thank you for your continued interest and support.  We wish you and yours, all the best in 2018. 

A+ Updates

Join us on February 23 – A+ Colorado’s “How We Elevate”

A+ Colorado is excited to announce our inaugural “How We Elevate” event. On February 23rd, join us for an evening of celebration and elevation as we honor leaders in our community who have done big things for kids.  At our event, we will be celebrating the contributions of Senator Michael Bennet, former Denver Public Schools Board Member Rosemary Rodriguez and former Denver Mayor Federico Peña.  “How We Elevate” is an event not to be missed! Join us, meet other education leaders and discuss the future of Colorado education.

Purchase your tickets here.

Integration Report Coming Soon!

A+ Colorado is very excited to announce it’s upcoming report focused on integration and gentrification in Denver. The report explores the research, realities, and recommendations surrounding integration in Denver.  A+ Colorado believes that citizens and leaders need to be informed about local integration data and trends. The report provides accounts from local Denver leaders who have been working to reduce segregation and national experts in the theory and practice of integration and presents specific recommendations to Denver Public Schools (DPS).  We believe that the work of the Strengthening Neighborhoods Initiatives Committee has been important, but, as a community, we need to mobilize all stakeholders for an even bolder conversation about the future of our neighborhoods and schools.

Development Manager Position

Ready to join our team? A+ Colorado is hiring for a Development Manager to lead our fundraising efforts. The Development Manager is responsible for developing a diverse and sustainable investor base throughout Colorado, raising approximately $1.5M annually. This is an exciting opportunity to grow the support for A+ Colorado through innovative fundraising strategies. Find out more.

News to Share

If “Honesty is the Best Policy,” Then We Need to #correcttheSPF

“Honest” by Danielle Scott is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A+ Colorado was encouraged by the release of a letter written by of community and civil rights organizations that called upon Denver Public Schools (DPS) to correct the School Performance Framework (SPF).  The letter was signed by leaders of the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver, the NAACP Denver Branch, the African Leadership Group, Together Colorado, Padres y Jóvenes Unidos and Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc., the nation’s first African-American fraternity. It states that “the district is significantly overstating literacy gains, which distorts overall academic performance across all elementary schools.”  This letter, entitled “Honesty is the Best Policy,” also calls upon DPS to reissue of the SPF as a short-term fix and to redesign of the SPF with community input as a long-term solution.  A+ Colorado has been speaking out on this issue since October and has been impressed by the mobilization of the community around this important issue.  There has also been considerable media coverage of this controversy.

Many of these groups, along with A+ Colorado, Senator Angela Williams, and a dozen parents spoke before the DPS Board at their meeting on December 21st.  All of the groups and individuals demanded honesty and accountability regarding student performance.  DPS has acknowledged that overweighting growth and early literacy data in the SPF calculation was an error. DPS is attempting to distribute letters to all DPS parents and asking teachers to have new conversations with parents about the actual proficiency of their students. A+ and other groups are encouraged by DPS’s plans but are concerned that not all parents will receive the communications and that parents will not have more accurate information to which they can refer. The coalition to #correctheSPF is waiting upon DPS to answer their second request by announcing a long-term community process to create SPF 2.0.

Is Denver Done with “Portfolio Management” as an Improvement Strategy

Denver Public Schools (DPS) is undergoing significant changes with the slowing of enrollment growth, changes in student demographics and possible adjustments in district improvement strategies. DPS has improved achievement for all student groups over the last decade using a variety of “portfolio management” improvement strategies.  This progress has been documented in many A+ Colorado reports and a recent book by David Osborne. Despite this positive growth, DPS still has only 38% students reading at grade-level by 3rd grade and 26% of low-income students reading at grade-level by 3rd grade. The recent inflation of the district school ratings (SPF) by the district not only results in families choosing schools that they believe will be better than they are but will also end many of DPS’s “portfolio” management practices. DPS will stop any interventions that included additional resources, greater support as well as new school development because most of the district schools are now good or “green.” There is no need create better schools. Robin Lake from the University of Washington laments these terrible decisions and appropriately reminds Denver that there is enormous work to be done.

Innovation Fund for JeffCo

This week, on a 5-0 vote, the Jefferson County Public School Board approved a one million dollar JeffCo Innovation Acceleration Fund (JIAF). Championed by Superintendent Jason Glass, the fund is designed to align resources to schools through a competitive grant process and prioritizes the funding of initiatives that are aligned to JeffCo’s new strategic plan, Jeffco Generations – A Learning-Centered Vision for our Community’s Schools.  This could be a great opportunity to invest strategically in schools that promote next-generation practices and also puts teeth behind the new strategic plan. Funds will need to be spent down by the end of the fiscal year (June), and if all goes well, new monies will be allocated to continue projects and to new ventures.



Denver Public Schools SchoolChoice Round 1 begins on February 1st.  There are several new choice options for parents this year.  One of them, The CUBE, is excited to revolutionize the high school learning experience.  Led by several former teachers and administrators from the Denver School of Science and technology, The CUBE experience integrates identity formation, a dynamic schedule, computational thinking, and interdisciplinary learning (the “Mash-Up”) to create a learning environment that prepares all students for college and career.  The school’s charter application outlines that innovative learning experience. The essence of the CUBE is the “Mash-Up”, an interdisciplinary, topic-based, smashing together of ideas, concepts and problem-solving that teaches us to think more deeply about the world.  Each Mash-Up will “tag” standards that articulate the course credit to meet Colorado Graduation Requirements. For example, an “Afrofuturism” Mash-Up might include three tags, one for Social Studies, English, and Graphic Arts. Social-emotional learning, career, art, and technology are threaded throughout the school day.

The CUBE believes that students should not just learn from great teachers, but also learn from people with great experiences.  The CUBE’s plans to enter into partnerships with community experts and organizations who can provide expertise in technology, graphic design, coding and the arts.  The CUBE will also take full advantage of learning in some of the great places found in Denver like the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Museum for Contemporary Art, and History Colorado. One of the most exciting programs the CUBE hopes to deliver is that every student who graduates from the CUBE will have the opportunity to have an industry certified coding or a SOLIDWORKS certificate.  The CUBE is starting with 9th grade and will build out to full enrollment in the next four years.  We look forward to following The CUBE’s progress and hope they share what components of their programs are most effective in improving student outcomes.

A+ in the News

Some Groups Claim Flawed Data From Denver Public Schools CBS Denver Channel 4

2017: A year of change, tragedy and victory in Aurora  Aurora Sentinel

School Hasn’t Changed In A Generation. These Colorado Educators Want To Upend That Colorado Public Radio News

THE PODIUM: In public education, funding matters — but so do a host of other factors  Colorado Politics

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