Welcome to the September edition of “This Month at the DPS Board”, a monthly newsletter sharing information about the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education.
Our goal is simple: to share what is happening at school board meetings so you can engage with the board and the district even if you cannot attend hours of meetings every month.
Strategic Roadmap Update
The Board work session began with an update on the Strategic Roadmap. Dr. Marrero shared an overview of the roadmap and talked about implementation. The goal is to accelerate growth for marginalized students. There are three ways in which this will be done: elevating student experience, adult experience, and system experience. By fall of 2022, they will build organizational functions, identify leaders for each strategy, work on how they will get from current state to future state, and create a timeline and change management.
District staff gave an update about the redistricting process. Colorado state statute requires Denver Public Schools (DPS) to redistrict after each federal census to ensure all districts are equal in population as much as possible. A division of districts will be presumed compliant with the equal protection clause if the maximum population deviation between the largest and smallest district is less than 10%. Currently there is a huge gap in population between District 2 and District 4. The guiding principles are to balance total population in schools, to maintain minimal impact on racial and ethnic concentrations, align with city precedents, to minimize the number of impacted families because of the process, and to incorporate natural boundaries. There is a timeline on to how this process will look and a final vote on February 25, 2023.
Superintendent Evaluation Timeline
The board gave a timeline for Superintendent Marrero’s evaluation. All board members will be part of this process. There will be opportunities for engagement leading up to the November 14 evaluation.
Board Topics Forecast & Agenda Review
Staff shared a forecast of topics for future meetings.
Progress Monitoring Report
Staff reported an overview of state assessment data including CMAS, PSAT, SAT, and READ Act assessment results. Staff shared aggregated data of students meeting grade level expectations, also referred to as “proficient by staff, as set by the state in Math and Literacy and results disaggregated by student group. Results will be used as a baseline for setting 2026 targets.
Some key points from the presentation include:
- 59% of K-2 students are proficient in literacy
- Across all student groups, the percentage of K-2 students scoring at grade-level and above decreased and the percentage of students scoring significantly below grade-level increased compared to pre-pandemic rates
- Fewer than half of multi-lingual learners are reading at grade level and 1/3 are significantly below grade level
- Less than 1/3 of students are proficient in math; in middle school more than half of students are not even approaching expectations indicating a substantial need for additional Math instructional support
- Overall, there are tremendous gaps between white students and black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) students.
Several board members shared their concerns about persisting performance gaps, including the accuracy and relevancy of assessment data, asked for data to represent intersectional student identities and called for staff to not “speak about learning in a deficit mindset”, calling it “highly problematic”.
View the full data presentation here.
Why Ethnic Names Matter
Vice President Anderson shared a presentation on his decision to reclaim his given name, Auon’tai, sharing historical context and his personal story to ensure students in DPS do “not feel afraid or disappointed to use their given name if they so choose.” View his presentation here.
Community expressed their opinions on variety of topics through public testimony. You can sign up here for public comment and speak directly to the board about what matters to you.
John F Kennedy High School students shared a presentation they developed to help educate their school and during Hispanic Heritage Month.
DPS has had a program to track and support women and minority owned businesses in Denver for over 20 years and is the only district in Colorado with such a program. They offer monthly workshops, networking settings, and other opportunities to support local minority and women owned businesses. The presentation offered a look into the supports and investments they make by ethnicity. Board members raised concerns over the disparity shown in Black owned businesses. Staff shared those concerns and said they have been working to prioritize increasing those numbers. The board asked for regular reports.
The board voted to approve a variety of items on the consent agenda including funding for various school construction projects and the personnel transaction report.
Teacher Dismissal Recommendation
The board considered a teacher dismissal recommendation from the Superintendent. All information was kept confidential and only presented to board members.