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Denver's Public Schools: Reforms, Challenges, and the Future

Denver's Public Schools: Reforms, Challenges, and the Future

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Published by A Plus Denver
The progression and challenges of education reform in Denver schools
The progression and challenges of education reform in Denver schools

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Published by: A Plus Denver on May 30, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Denver’s Public Schools:Reforms, Challenges,and the Future
By Judy Bray and Alex Medler
The Colorado Children’s Campaign (CCC) led the development of thisproject with the support and guidance of two partner organizations,A+ Denver (A+) and the Metro Organizations for People (MOP). We areespecially grateful for the assistance of project advisors Bob Palaich andAndrew Brodsky from Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, Inc.; Paul Teske,Robert Reichardt, and Kelly Hupfeld from the Center for Education PolicyAnalysis in the School of Public Affairs at CU Denver; and Van Schoales andSari Levy from The Piton Foundation.
Project Consultants
 Judy Bray,
State Policy Services
- lead authorDebra Banks,
Proteus Collaborations
- public engagement strategy
Project Team
Alex Medler and Mark Fermanich,
Colorado Children’s Campaign
Donna Middlebrooks and Anne Bye Rowe,
 A+ Denver 
Mike Kromrey,
 Metro Organizations for People
Special thanks to The Piton Foundation and Qwest Communications forsupport and funding for this project.
 June 15, 2009
ur city faces a major challenge. Our public schools do not perform adequately. Denver’s studentpopulation has changed over time, with larger proportions of students faced with factors such aspoverty and limited English language skills. These challenges appear in almost all urban school systems inAmerica. Nevertheless, they do not change the requirements facing citizens in the 21st century. To thrive asa city, all of Denver’s young people need to receive a world-class education that prepares them for success asadults. Currently, far too few students in Denver get such an education. Persistent and wide gaps in achievementexist between students of different backgrounds. Few perform at grade level, and as they get older, more andmore students fall below grade level. While students do make academic growth from year to year, almost noneimprove fast enough to rise back up to grade level if they ever fall behind. Additionally, only about one-half of the
To its credit, Denver is pursuing a variety of complex and far-reaching education reforms. But anyone canlaunch a bold new reform. Success with such dramatic reform requires education leaders who can articulateand implement a vision, sustain the effort to achieve it, and build wide-spread support to protect their hard-
reforms move forward.Overcoming challenges, implementing these reforms, and achieving bold goals for the children and youth in ourcity’s public schools will require a well-informed and engaged citizenry. The public’s role is not simple either.Reforms do take time; persistence is required to see them through. At the same time we must maintain a sense
and should insist that current reforms are continually evaluated and the lessons learned are used to adjust and
The community must focus on the needs of today’s children, be vigilant about high academic expectations for allof them, ask hard questions about what has been achieved, and insist on continuing and accelerating progress.
when the challenges are daunting, but energy, effort, and hope run high. Our intent is to provide information andcommunicate the status of education reform in Denver. The report gives an objective look at the history and
It is possible that our city could become one of the best places in the nation to raise and educate young people.But to get there, Denver’s civic leaders, local organizations, business interests, and community members need
years ahead to fully implement these reforms to strengthen instruction, revamp teacher pay, and ensure improvedschool performance and innovation. Public support will be needed to rework the system in ways that will put
Better data, more public engagement during important policy discussions, and greater clarity about where we
forward in a whole new way. We hope you will join us in taking those next steps.Colorado Children’s CampaignA+ DenverMetro Organizations for People

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