High school dropout crisis addressed by CYC

JEFFERSON PARK — Colorado Youth for a Change (CYC) reengages at-risk students and helps them get their high school diploma, GED or even an associate degree. “The work that we’re doing is the right work to be done for this population,” says Robert Ham, CYC’s development director. “If we don’t invest on the front end […]

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Goddard School embraces preservation and innovation

HIGHLAND — The much-anticipated opening of the Goddard School, an imaginative year-round preschool at 3914 King Street, provides another exceptional reimagining of a historic building restoration in Northwest Denver. The new school offers a critical business need as well as an exemplar of what vision can bring with reuse versus demolition. The early childhood education […]

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Fermaentra Brewing Will School You in Beer

PLATTE PARK — Tucked in a brick building on South University, Fermaentra is pretty unassuming… until you step inside and taste their beers. As a DU student, I have been here a number of times during my school career, but typically to wash away my school woes, which are admittedly pretty deep.  However, Fermaentra is […]

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Micro school elementary students use their research to make a difference

WEST HIGHLAND — At the first annual FUN, FOOD & “FILANTHROPY” fair, Highlands Micro School students will combine three of their favorite things: learning, fun and a commitment to making a difference in the world. After two months of research into individually selected topics of interest, Micro students have selected non-profits in fields such as oceanic preservation, space exploration, food […]

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Manual High School Student Declares School Board Candidacy

DENVER — Auontai (Tay) Anderson, a senior at Manual High School, announces his candidacy for Denver Public Schools Board of Education as Representative for District Four. Anderson, 18, is the youngest candidate ever to run for the position. “With over a decade as a student in the public education system and four years in student […]

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DPS 2016 School Performance Framework results

NORTH DENVER — Denver Public Schools released the results of the eighth School Performance Framework (SPF) on October 27 at one of NW Denver’s rising star elementary schools, Trevista at Horace Mann. Principal Jesús Rodríguez and his team embraced the opportunity to showcase their students to visitors as the young welcoming committee greeted them at the blue doors with full-on eye contact, handshakes and welcoming smiles. The ECE students opened the formal presentation with a joyful dance choreographed to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Trevista has a good reason to be happy. The Northwest Denver school was rated Red in 2013. This year DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Denver Board of Education Vice President Barbara O’Brien joined Trevista Principal Jesús Rodríguez, Trevista teachers and students to celebrate that school’s first-ever Green rating, highlighting the school as an example of strong growth.

“I know how hard it is to get here,” O’Brien, who served with community members and families on the Northwest Working Group to improve area schools, told the Trevista team. “It’s heroic work and we all thank you for what you’ve done.”

Rodríguez said the school is determined to reach the very highest rating, or Blue. “Last year, we painted our doors blue because we want everyone … to see that we are on a mission to be blue,” he said.  “We know we have a long way to go, but the determination of our staff and community make the future bright blue for us.”

The 2016 SPF Results

Not all schools felt as happy as Trevista as the SPF color-coded “stoplight” system ratings dropped in 40 percent of DPS schools by at least one color rating according to a Chalkbeat analysis by reporter Melanie Asmar. The analysis did not include the district’s alternative schools or early education centers.

The SPF evaluates a comprehensive set of factors to create a color rating for each of the district’s nearly 200 schools. The SPF is similar to a report card for each school, rating how well the school supports student growth and achievement and how well it serves students and families. It helps a school focus on its strengths and highlights where improvement is needed. Of the four factors it evaluates (Academic Growth, Student Achievement-also known as “Status,” Equity, and Parent Satisfaction), Growth is weighted the most heavily.

The 2016 SPF is the first released by the district since the implementation of more rigorous academic standards and assessments. Boasberg has supported the tougher standards as more in line with what students truly need to be prepared for success in college and career.

In 2016 the results showed 7% Distinguished (Blue), 43% Meets Expectations (Green), 28% Accredited on Watch (Yellow), 7% Accredited on Priority Watch (Orange) and 16% Accredited on Probation (Red).

DPS did not have an SPF in 2015 because the state moved from the TCAP test to CMAS. Overall school ratings have been historically based on two year’s worth of growth data to help equalize “one-off” situations that might swing the data pendulum. Boasberg acknowledged at a Board meeting prior to the SPF result release that because of the switch to PARCC tests, and only one year of growth data there would be greater swings in school ratings.

“Overall, the number of Green and Blue schools are down this year, which comes as no surprise with new state standards,” he said. Approximately 50% of schools were ranked as Green or Blue in 2016, a 10% drop since 2014. The numbers could have been worse were it not for a last-minute school board decision to lower the bar on the percentage of students who were required to meet or exceed expectations on the PARCC tests.

Some positive wins and challenges for equity

Boasberg focused on the positive and celebrated “the extraordinary progress that some of our schools are making” by acknowledging the Principals of Fairview Elementary, Trevista, University Prep Charter School, Collegiate Prep Academy, DSST: College View High School Charter and Respect Academy, a multiple pathways school.

“Clearly one of the things these schools have in common is overwhelmingly serving students who come from families in poverty and helping … those students achieve extraordinary growth,” Boasberg said, telling the assembled school leaders: “The work that you are doing to drive the growth of our students is the most important work we have in our society today, and I speak on behalf of our whole community in thanking you for that work.”

Boasberg noted the significant gaps among students by ethnicity, race and income: “Our commitment as public schools is to ensure all of our kids succeed, and it is fundamentally a civil rights mission.”

For the first time this year, DPS schools are receiving an equity rating based on how well they are supporting students in poverty, students of color, English learners and students with special needs. In 2017 all schools will be required to meet or exceed expectations in this category to reach an overall Blue or Green rating.

Some hits and misses for Northwest Denver

In addition to Trevista’s Green ranking, Valdez also moved from Yellow to Green. Fairview Elementary is another NW neighborhood school that moved the needle from Red in 2014 to Green in 2016 based on very high growth scores. “This means we are closer to ensuring that our students who struggle the most with poverty have a great education,” said Fairview Principal Antoinette Hudson, whose school is on the edge of the Sun Valley neighborhood. “Setting high expectations for student learning is extremely important.”

North High School was another shining NW example of a High School that moved from Yellow in 2014 to Green this year. An exuberant FB posting with a green fireworks display had the community cheering the school on. Nicole Veltze, the firecracker Principal that set the rocket in motion before passing on the torch to her highly capable AP, now Principal Scott Wolf, said, “Congratulations Viking Team! Thanks for showing it was possible. So proud!”  Another friend of North, Lynne Van Bebber Rerucha said, “This has & continues to be, a great school without the totally fake & scarcely valid scores from tests created for nefarious reasons. Get excited about real kids doing lots of cool things that will help their lives and love of life long learning. North High School is great because kids and teachers continue to give it their all.”

Lake International Academy, a Middle School, moved from Red to Yellow, a two-color jump since 2014. Of significance, the school had a Green rating in Growth which is a core focus for the educators that measures how much students grow from year-to-year compared to their peers. It has its work cut out for it earning a Red mark in Parent Satisfaction. That, however, is changing dramatically as highly involved families from Brown and Valdez are entering the middle school and focusing on bringing parent engagement to a new high.

While parent satisfaction is measured on the SPF, parent engagement is not. That factor, however, has undoubtedly helped bring once-failing schools like Brown International Academy and Skinner Middle School into some of the most coveted neighborhood schools of choice.

For other NW schools, there were some unexpected blows that hurt. Some of the most highly regarded neighborhood schools like Skinner, Bryant Webster, Ana Marie Sandoval and Edison dropped from Green to Yellow.

Although Boasberg noted that some schools dropped in their SPF ratings due to new state standard testing, the overall results can be dinged based on a variety of factors including a lack of response or poor responses in parent satisfaction surveys that pull down the overall ranking.

A classic neighborhood example is Skinner Middle School, which has proven to be an outstanding educational option for the neighborhood and includes Honors Classes and a robust enrichment program. Its waiting lists for admittance have been feared by those who wished to “choice in,” and a great point of dispute for the NW Working Group last spring as they debated the new Middle School enrollment zone.

Skinner lost its Green ranking by .13% based on a 1- point drop in the parent satisfaction survey. The school was faulted for lack of communication which shocked many parents given the fact that the school texts, emails, and calls multiple times per week. It also has one of the most active parent communities in the neighborhood that has raised over $ 80,000 since 2014 to help supplement technology, and other classroom needs not covered by the school’s budget. At the recent Parent/Teacher conferences, 89% of the families came a statistic that startled the new Assistant Principal Lindsay Young who has been at four different DPS schools. She said, “I have never seen that kind of involvement and engagement by families at conferences or Back-to-School Nights.” Unfortunately, this kind of engagement doesn’t get reflected in the SPF, and begs the question, “Why?”

Principal Michelle Koyama and her teachers are solidly focused on the school’s results in growth. Koyama noted, “We are green in growth which matters the most to us.  We are growing our students who come to us at ‘meets expectations,’ and are growing them to ‘exceeds expectations.’  We are also growing our students who are coming to us at the opposite end from ‘does not meet expectations’ on up.”  Both she and the parent community are concerned that this ranking will adversely affect morale when all indicators continue to point up for the school.

DPS Board issues an SPF cautionary warning

The school board, too, knows that there are some sharks in the water when it comes to many of the DPS schools dropped rankings. Families often make decisions about school choice based on “color.” Boasberg warned caution at the last board meeting saying, “As we talk to parents and community members, we say, ‘Yes, the SPF is important, but the most important thing is to go visit a school, talk to parents, talk to students.’ People do care deeply about the SPF. It does tell an important story. But it’s important that we tell that with humility and we tell that with caution.”

Deputy Superintendent, Susana Cordova noted, “There are great things happening in different schools with different color ratings. The SPF gives us specificity on where we can improve. Families are encouraged to attend our next Board meeting with a Focus on Achievement Study Session to learn more specifics.”

Focus on Achievement

The Focus on Achievement school board meeting will be held November 3 at 4:30 p.m. in the Emily Griffith Campus, 1860 Lincoln Street.

To learn more about how DPS monitors, supports and holds schools accountable at greatschools.dpsk12.org. The site also is available in Spanish.

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Denver Public Schools Announce Districtwide Progress on School Performance Framework

DENVER — Denver Public Schools released the results of the eighth School Performance Framework (SPF), which looks at a comprehensive set of factors to create a rating for each of the district’s nearly 200 schools. These parent-friendly ratings range from Distinguished, or Blue on our ratings “stoplight,” to Accredited on Probation, or Red.

The overall rating summary for the DPS 2016 SPF:

Rating

% of Schools

Distinguished (Blue)

7%

Meets Expectations (Green)

43%

Accredited on Watch (Yellow)

28%

Accredited on Priority Watch (Orange)

7%

Accredited on Probation (Red)

16%

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg highlighted examples of strong growth in the results this morning at Trevista at Horace Mann, a Northwest Denver school that was rated Red in 2013. Boasberg and Denver Board of Education Vice President Barbara O’Brien joined Trevista Principal Jesús Rodríguez, Trevista teachers, and students to celebrate that school’s first-ever Green rating. 

“I know how hard it is to get here,” O’Brien, who served with community members and families on the Northwest Working Group to improve area schools, told the Trevista team. “It’s heroic work, and we all thank you for what you’ve done.”

Rodríguez said the school is determined to reach the very highest rating or Blue.

“Last year, we painted our doors blue because we want everyone … to see that we are on a mission to be blue,” he said.  “We know we have a long way to go, but the determination of our staff and community make the future bright blue for us.” 

“Our families entrust our work and partner with us to fulfill the hopes and dreams of the children that we share,” said Trevista teacher Jessica Mullins. “We celebrate our kids… who show us on a daily basis the possibilities for their futures.” 

Joining in the celebration at Trevista were school teams from Fairview Elementary, University Prep Charter School, Collegiate Prep Academy, DSST: College View High School Charter and Respect Academy, a multiple pathways school. All of these schools saw strong results on the SPF.

“This means we are closer to ensuring that our students who struggle the most with poverty have a great education,” said Fairview Principal Antoinette Hudson, whose school on the edge of the Sun Valley neighborhood. “Setting high expectations for student learning is extremely important.”

“Clearly one of the things these schools have in common is overwhelmingly serving students who come from families in poverty and helping … those students achieve extraordinary growth,” Boasberg said, telling the assembled school leaders: “The work that you are doing to drive the growth of our students is the most important work we have in our society today, and I speak on behalf of our whole community in thanking you for that work.”  

Among other highlights in the data: 

· Among schools identified as alternative education campuses, 7 of the ten schools that were rated Orange or Red in 2014 increased to Yellow or Green.

· Among our 23 schools receiving intensive district supports because of a history of poor performance, 14 improved their ratings between 2014 and 2016; 5 stayed the same and four went down.

Boasberg said the SPF also highlighted challenges the district is facing.

“Overall, the number of Green and Blue schools are down this year, which comes as no surprise with new state standards,” he said. 

The 2016 SPF is the first released by the district since the implementation of more rigorous academic standards and assessments. Boasberg has supported the tougher standards as more in line with what students truly need to be prepared for success in college and career.

“We celebrate the achievement of our schools that have achieved Blue status, but we also want to work to achieve a higher bar for our schools,” he said. “For example, next year, we will have a higher bar for our high schools.

He also noted the significant gaps among students by ethnicity, race, and income: “Our commitment as public schools is to ensure all of our kids succeed, and it is fundamentally a civil rights mission.” 

For the first time this year, DPS schools are receiving an equity rating based on how well they are supporting students in poverty, students of color, English learners and students with special needs.

The rating is determined by performance on existing measures, such as state assessments, but it’s being pulled out to emphasize high expectations for all kids, Boasberg said. While it is not part of a school’s overall rating this year, it will be included on the 2017 SPF. 

“A year from now, all schools will be required to be closing gaps in order to be Green or Blue,” he said, “so we can ensure we are serving all of our students.”

Learn more about how DPS monitors, supports and holds schools accountable at greatschools.dpsk12.org. The site also is available in Spanish.

 

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Good news from North High School

NORTH DENVER —  The fall semester is well underway and we have lots of good news to share from the hallowed halls of North High School.  Thank you to everyone in the community who came out to support North High at the powder puff game, homecoming parade, chili and chile cook-off, bonfire and the Homecoming football game! North’s varsity football team is currently undefeated at 4-0.  Come out and catch a game.

On the enrollment side, we have the largest freshman class in many years with 340 students, a 31% increase over last year.  The entire student body is nearly 1,100 representing a 21% increase in the last two years.

We know that the success of a high school is demonstrated through multiple measures.  While CMAS state testing is not the only measure, it is one that allows us to see how we are doing compared to other schools in Colorado.

This year, North’s English/Language Arts scores went up 9%, which was the second highest increase of all traditional high schools.  We had an MGP (Median Growth Percentile) of 65, which is also the second highest of all traditional high schools and falls in the state category of “More Than Expected” growth from our students.  According to Principal Scott Wolf, “East was the only school who outperformed us by one point.”

By way of comparison the Language Arts Median Growth Percentile for a mix of traditional, innovation and charter high school’s was: East-66, North-65, South-53, West Leadership-45.5, West Generations -41, and Strive Excel-37.

In Math, we gained 9.5%, which also was the second highest increase of all traditional high schools.  We are especially excited that we increased the percentage of students passing the Geometry portion of the assessment by 41.8%.  Our MGP in Math was 59 and again the second highest of all traditional high schools.  (Thomas Jefferson led the pack at 65.)

In Math comparative MGP results show: West Leadership-62.5, Strive Excel-62, West Generations-59.5, North-59, East-55, and South-54.

Thank you for the collective investment in North.  It is paying off for our students and our community!  Please join us on October 27 from 6-8PM for our annual Trick or Treat Street costume party. It’s a wonderful way to connect with and support your future, neighborhood high school and our North Denver community. It is a free event.

Rebecca Caldwell  |  [email protected]

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School bus rental Denver: Things You Should Know

School buses still remain among the most high demand form of buses being rented today. The reason for this is because they are proven to be relatively safe and comfortable for day trips with adults and students. Many rental buses are created similar to the traditional school bus however, they are not painted yellow. This is one of the major differences between school buses and other bus rentals. If you are looking into school bus rental Denver for an upcoming field trip or social even below you will find some tips on how to get the most for your money.

It is important to know the amount of children you will need to seat. School buses are created in different sizes so you want to know how many you have to accommodate. The more accurate your count the more you will save. Prior to signing any contracts for a bus rental Denver, you want to make sure you know the accurate amount. Some schools make the mistake of renting a larger bus than necessary and spend more money than they need. Try finding a company that will let you change the bus size if you are well off your estimate.
It is important to know where you’re going on your trip. You want to try and map out the most logical way to get to your destination and consider the amount of miles you will be traveling. When you go and speak to someone about bus rental Denver, you want to already have alternate routes for the driver to take that will cut down on the mileage and generally the expense for gas. You also want to make sure that you’re picking everyone up from a central location. The more starts and stops the driver has to make, the more it’s going to come out of your pocket.
Many schools are unaware that a bus company can charge you more money for cleaning up. When you go and get a car rental you are responsible for returning it in the same shape that you took it in. You should have the same mentality with your bus rental Denver. Assign a few students to do a quick run through of the bus and clean up any mess that may have gotten left behind. Not only is it thoughtful to return the bus in a good and clean condition, it also leaves a great impression of your school and students. It’s an embarrassing thing to return a filthy bus as they may not want to do business with you again.  
Last but not least, to cut down on the drama and chaos that happens on field trips for younger children you want to make sure that you have enough staff on hand to help out. While the bus drivers are trained to drive in these sorts of conditions, you don’t want to make their atmosphere uncomfortable. Having enough help on board can also cut down on the amount of junk that is left behind on the bus.

These tips and more will help you cut down on costs as well as keep a good reputation when you decide to get a bus rental Denver area.

Planning a fun filled day for your students? A party bus rental Denver can be both a fun and luxurious method of transportation for a large group of students. Visit Coachways Denver online today.

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