Board Hears Updates on School Performance Tools, MWBE

2016 School Performance Framework Considerations

The Denver Board of Education tonight (Sept. 12) discussed recommendations to limit changes for how schools are rated on the 2016 School Performance Framework, also known as the SPF or school report card. The shift from the TCAP to CMAS state assessments meant there were no SPF ratings in 2015.

Board members heard recommendations from district staff in three areas:

  • CMAS cut points – Should the proficiency bar be lowered as a result of the increased rigor of CMAS? District leaders recommended that, although students across the state posted lower performance on the CMAS exams, we should not change our status cut points on the SPF, which are intended to highlight whether students are on track for college and career readiness at graduation.
  • Increasing the weighting of status measures – Should more weight be placed on status (performance in a given year) than in previous years? DPS has historically focused more attention on growth (progress from one year to the next). District leaders recommended no changes to continue to emphasize that student growth from one year to the next should continue to be the most important factor on the SPF.
  • Implementation of minimum thresholds or “business rules” to achieve green or blue ratings – Should the district require certain thresholds be met before a school can be rated effective (green) or distinguished (blue)? For example, before a school can receive a green or blue rating, must the school show progress in closing opportunity gaps? District leaders noted they were still considering this issue, and board members asked to see how schools would fare under the various scenarios. District leaders said that information likely will not be available for a couple weeks, after the state releases CMAS growth data.

SPF ratings for schools are tentatively scheduled to be released Oct. 20.

You can read the full presentation here.

School Performance Compact Implementation, Timeline

Board members tonight also heard an updated proposal for the implementation guidelines for the School Performance Compact (SPC) policy, including the timeline for Fall 2016 and associated community engagement activities.

The presentation included the proposed threshold for School Quality Review (SQR) scores as part of Criterion C in the policy. This would only apply in cases where a school has failed to meet the first two criteria under the SPC – SPF scores in the bottom five percent of the district over the last three years and failure to meet growth expectations in the most recent year. A panel was convened to develop recommendations for the level of performance a school must meet in a School Quality Review to avoid a recommendation for restart or closure under the district’s policy. The panel discussed what results they would expect to indicate a persistently low-performing school’s likely capacity for growth. The recommendation is that on the SQR scale of 10 to 40 points, schools must earn at least 25 points AND earn at least a 2 rating (on a scale of 1 to 4) for each of the 10 key questions the report rates the school on. View the full presentation here.

The next steps for implementation of the policy are spelled out in a complete timeline here. Because DPS is still waiting on student growth data on the CMAS state assessments, district leaders said board decisions may need to be delayed from November to early December.

SPC Proposal: Timing of the Restart Process

Board members also discussed the timeline for replacement schools in cases where a school has been designated under the SPC. The question is in which cases the restarts should begin nine months after a school is designated versus 21 months after a school is designated.

You can read more about the timing question on restarts here.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg noted the urgency associated with wanting to ensure kids are in great schools as soon as possible — but also cited the value of communities having the time and opportunity to weigh in on what the new school should look like for their children.

To learn more about the School Performance Compact policy, visit

Diverse Contracting Update: Exceeding MWBE Goal, Next Steps

District staff provided an update on the minority and women-owned business enterprise or MWBE program, which seeks to ensure diversity in contracting for the 2012 bond program.

“We’ve made very significant improvements and have significantly more to learn,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg.

Chief Operating Officer David Suppes said the district has provided slightly more than $17 million to MWBE contractors since January 2015, when the board established its MWBE goals program. The overall total goal for the program is 24% utilization of bond dollars by MWBE contractors; the district has exceeded that goal, with 31% utilization by MWBE firms.

Staff members also described expanded strategies, such as hiring a third-party firm for a review of the goals program to date and hiring a director of business diversity and outreach.

See the full presentation here and learn more about our commitment to equity here.