DENVER

Citywide Education Progress Report

Key Takeaways: Student and School Outcomes

Citywide, school proficiency rates on state assessments have improved relative to the state, but outcome gains have been uneven. White students are more likely to enroll in top-scoring elementary and middle schools than in lower-performing schools, and they are overrepresented in advanced math coursework in high school. The city’s graduation rate remains 10 percentage points below the state’s.
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Is the education system continuously improving?

► Between 2011-12 and 2014-15, the city’s graduation rate improved relative to the state’s, but in 2014-15 it was still below the state average.

Data: Percent of first-time 9th grade students graduating in four years, citywide and statewide.
Source: EDFacts Initiative, U.S. Department of Education, Assessment and Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates Data, 2011-12 to 2014-15.


► Between 2011-12 and 2013-14, the math proficiency rate gap between the city and state was closing.

Data: The city’s estimated gains in proficiency rates across elementary and middle schools, standardized at the state level and controlling for student demographics.
Source: Colorado State Board of Education, 2011-12 to 2013-14.


► Between 2011-12 and 2013-14, the reading proficiency rate gap between the city and state was closing.

Data: The city’s estimated gains in proficiency rates across elementary and middle schools, standardized at the state level and controlling for student demographics.
Source: Colorado State Board of Education, 2011-12 to 2013-14.


Do students have access to a high-quality education?

► The Education Equality Index (EEI) identifies how students from low-income families are performing in cities and schools across the country. See this interactive tool to explore individual school performance.

Data: The Education Equality Index (EEI) was supplied by Education Cities and GreatSchools. See their site for more detail.
Sources:  Colorado State Board of Education, 2010-11 to 2014-15; National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2010-11 to 2014-15.


► In 2013-14, 20% of students enrolled in the city’s top-scoring schools. White students were enrolled in top-scoring schools at higher rates than they enrolled in medium- and low-scoring schools.

Data: This figure shows whether students are equitably enrolled in the city’s top 20% performing schools, based on student proficiency in state reading assessments. Within a single student sub-group, we identify what percent is enrolled in top-, middle-, and low-performing schools. If the share of students enrolled in top-scoring schools citywide and the share of a particular sub-group are similar, this means that the sub-group is equally distributed across low-, middle-, and top-scoring schools.
Sources: Colorado State Board of Education, 2010-11 to 2014-15; National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2010-11 to 2014-15.


► In 2013-14, white students were enrolling in high school advanced math coursework at rates above their total high school enrollment, while Hispanic students were enrolling at rates below their total enrollment.

Data: Enrollment of students in math courses above Algebra II. Rates calculated by dividing the number of students enrolled in advanced math by the number of students in the school. Sub-group rates determined at the school level.
Source: U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Civil Rights Data Collection 2013-2014.

Data & Scoring

Where did we get this data?

► Publicly available state and federal data, making our results comparable and reproducible.

► The most up-to-date data available for all 18 cities at the time of our data collection. See Methodology & Resources for more information.

What makes the data citywide?

► We include all charter and district schools within the municipal boundary of a city.

► In Houston, Indianapolis, Memphis, New Orleans, and San Antonio we use school data from multiple districts within the municipal boundary.

Background

About Denver

Denver Public Schools (DPS) had consistent leadership under Superintendent Tom Boasberg from 2009 to 2018. At the time of writing this summary, a new superintendent had not yet been appointed. In 2012, DPS adopted one of the nation’s first unified enrollment processes to include all charter and district schools in a city.  DPS started offering Innovation Schools with autonomy in 2008. In 2016, the school board provided all district schools with flexibility over curriculum, assessment, and professional development. In 2014, the district started the Imaginarium to help principals create innovative school designs. In 2018, DPS invited schools to apply to join more autonomous “innovation zones.”

School Choice in the City

Students are guaranteed a seat at any school in their assigned enrollment zone, but can choose any school in another zone on a space-availability basis.

Governance Model

The Denver Board of Education oversees all district schools. DPS is the sole authorizer of all charter schools.

2017 District and Charter Student Body

Enrollment: 92,331 students
Race and ethnicity: 56% Hispanic, 23% white, 13% black, 8% other
Low-income: 67% free and reduced-price lunch

2017 School Composition 

Source: Enrollment data from Denver Public Schools, 2016.
School data from researcher analysis of public records, 2016-17.

The Center on Reinventing Public Education is a research and policy analysis center at the University of Washington Bothell developing systemwide solutions for K–12 public education. Questions? Email crpe@uw.edu.