Friday, Sept. 2, 2016
Progress, But Opportunity Gaps Remain
" While they are generally referred to as 'achievement' gaps, we see them more as 'opportunity' gaps, because they are the result of decades of educational inequity and lack of access to quality schools in communities of color."
Dear DPS Community:

Supt. Tom Boasberg
There's been a lot of growth in Denver's schools over the past decade. Since the original Denver Plan was launched in 2005 to transform and improve our schools, Denver has seen greater enrollment growth than any other major U.S. city, our kids have shown greater academic progress on state assessments than students in any other major Colorado school district and we're seeing record numbers of DPS seniors walk across the graduation stage each spring. Those are all important and encouraging signs of progress.

One big question that remains, however, is: How well are we preparing our students for success after graduation?

Now that we've raised our academic standards to a higher bar, we're getting a truer sense about how our schools and our kids are doing on state assessments: the Colorado Measures of Academic Success or CMAS, which assess the kind of problem-solving, critical-thinking skills that our kids need to succeed in college and career.

Students at Palmer Elementary, where students saw the most gains in CMAS scores.
I n both math and English, we saw an increase in the percentage of our students who meet or exceed expectations in the 2016 results. In English, the percentage of Denver students meeting or exceeding expectations rose to 36%, up 3 percentage points from last year. And in math, the increase is 4 percentage points, up to 2 9 %. Click here to see our 2016 CMAS results.

I am very grateful to our teachers and school leaders for all their hard work that has helped us clos e the gap between our students and their peers across the state. In 2005, Denver Public Schools trailed statewide averages by about 25 percentage points in both English Language Acquisition and math. A decade later, DPS has reduced that figure to four percentage points in both areas .

During this last decade, DPS students and schools have consistently outpaced their peers across the state in their year-to-year academic growth. Strikingly, for each year students are in DPS schools, they gain ground on state averages, with DPS seventh- and eighth-graders exceeding state averages in math and coming within one percent of state averages in language arts. Nevertheless, we are acutely concerned that, despite the progress, large majorities of our students are not demonstrating grade-level mastery in either subject, as that mastery is critical for their success later in college and career.  

 
Watch this DPS Features video about our schools' progress.
In addition, our major area of focus going forward is erasing the gaps that are not yet closing -- the gaps in achievement between our white students and our African-American and Latino students. Like in many other cities across the country, our achievement gaps remain unacceptably wide. And while they are generally referred to as "achievement" gaps, we see them more as "opportunity" gaps, because they are the result of decades of educational inequity and lack of access to quality schools in communities of color. We're working hard to change that.

Our Denver Plan 2020 stresses our commitment to offer great schools in every neighborhood that include quality preschool programs and support the whole child. In doing so, we will erase opportunity gaps and get all our kids ready for success in college and career.

That's what we mean by our vision of Every Child Succeeds. That's the challenge ahead. And I look forward to working together with the Denver community to build on the progress of the past decade and make that vision a reality.

Best,
Tom  

Pictured above: Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Denver Board of Education Treasurer Mike Johnson join students and educators at Palmer Elementary Wednesday to review district-level and school-level CMAS results.
Board Approves Sale of Emily Griffith Opportunity School
Denver Board of Education members Thursday approved the final transaction in Operation Unite, the district's 2012 plan to consolidate and update facilities, with the sale of the Emily Griffith Opportunity School.
 
This sale is the final piece of a larger plan that has resulted in facility upgrades for about 9,000 students, consolidation of administrative functions, yearly operating savings of more than $1 million for DPS and Emily Griffith, and a net gain for taxpayers of about $8 million. Among those consolidations is the new Emily Griffith Campus at 1860 Lincoln St., which houses an elementary school, a high school and the district's school-support center. Schools benefiting from the plan include Contemporary Learning Academy, Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS) and Joe Shoemaker.
 
Emily Griffith, a DPS substitute teacher, started her school "for all who wish to learn" 100 years ago. She grew her school at 1250 Welton St., adding buildings through the years. But several years ago, as enrollment continued to increase and as learning spaces became more antiquated, it became clear that the facility on Welton -- though historically important -- was not up to the task of serving Emily Griffith students for the next 100 years.
 
DPS partnered with Historic Denver, among others, to obtain local landmark designation for the historic school and to require the buyer preserve the most important historic aspects of the site. Meanwhile, Emily Griffith's legacy continues to thrive today, with some 5,000 students in two state-of-the-art campuses -- Emily Griffith High School and Emily Griffith Technical College -- a couple of miles from the original site.

Learn more about Operation Unite and the approved sale.
Mars Bus Inspires Denver's Future Astronauts
McAuliffe students took an incredible (albeit simulated) trip to Mars on the first virtual-reality vehicle designed to inspire the next generation of students to study STEM and potentially go to Mars. The Mars Experience bus, which uses mobile virtual reality to show students what it's like to drive on the Mars surface, was brought to DPS through Lockheed Martin's Generation Beyond initiative.

Once the ride began, students enjoyed a moving Martian landscape on the windows of the bus and riders felt as though they were moving across Mars as the bus traveled. They saw a Mars rover at work, experienced a Martian dust storm and saw a Martian base.

In May, DPS received an $800,000 grant from Lockheed Martin. The funds will implement Project Lead The Way STEM curricula at an estimated 25 elementary, middle and high schools in DPS over a three-year period.
Updated Resources Available:
2016-17 District Map and Handbook for Families and Students

District Map: Find addresses and school locations across DPS through the 2016-17 district map. The map is now available to print and view online using the links below:  


Handbook for Families and Students:
The 2016-17 DPS Handbook for Families and Students offers a summary of resources, programs, services and policies often referenced by DPS students, parents and guardians. The handbook is now available in English and Spanish online here . Printed copies of the handbook are available in your school's front office. The handbook will also be available in Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, French, Nepali, Russian, Somali and Vietnamese by mid-September online here .
 
If you have comments or suggestions to be made to the handbook or the district map, contact 720-423-3200 or email office_communications@dpsk12.org .
EDUCA Radio Broadcast in English with Supt. Tom Boasberg and Sonia Manzano
Sonia Manzano
Tune in to EDUCA Radio from 5 to 6 p.m. today on 1090 AM to hear from Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Sonia Manzano, best known for her role as "Maria" from "Sesame Street." The conversation will focus on being bilingual, early literacy and the Denver Plan 2020.

Join the conversation by sending questions or comments via text message to 720-961-3775 or through the EDUCA Facebook page to qualify to win four tickets to the Denver Botanic Gardens. Stream from your smartphone here.

EDUCA Radio is a bilingual, hour-long talk show airing six days a week (Sunday through Friday, 5 to 6 p.m. on 1090 AM). The program is the first of its kind in K-12 public education, focusing on topics important to DPS families and communities in both English and Spanish. EDUCA broadcasts on two popular Spanish-language radio stations every Sunday on 96.5 FM and 92.1 FM from 6 to 7 a.m. EDUCA also produces a TV show, newsmagazine and social media.
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