Board of Education Update – August 20, 2018 Work Session

Bond and Mill Levy Oversight Committees Report Out

“We go out to voters and ask them to invest in Denver Public Schools, and then it’s the responsibility of the district to make sure we’re investing in what we told the voters we would invest in,” said Board Chair Anne Rowe, introducing the district’s bond and mill levy oversight committees, which presented at the August 20, 2018 work session.

The committee discussed the emphasis it has placed on communicating about the bond and mill levy overrides to the community, including a new dashboard it has created.

The full bond presentation is available here and the mill levy presentation is here. You can learn more at

Student Academic Progress: 2018 CMAS, PSAT, SAT and READ Act Results Reviewed

The Board of Education reviewed detailed data on how students performed on 2018 assessments, including the Colorado Measures of Academic Progress (CMAS), SAT and PSAT college entrance exams, and the READ Act. The Colorado Department of Education released the results Thursday, August 16, 2018.

“We appreciate the state’s thoughtfulness and effort in publishing both status and growth together this year,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. He said while there is a lot of data the district is still working to analyze, “I think there are terrific signs of progress, some areas of concern and some that are question marks.”

Boasberg explained that that student growth “continues to be strong and positive, especially in grades 3-8. A decade ago, eighth-graders were 30% behind their peers statewide, but this year, they outpaced their classmates statewide.”

For the eighth year in a row, DPS students outpaced their classmates statewide in academic growth in English language arts and math. DPS moved from last place among the state’s 12 largest districts in combined academic growth in literacy and math to first place, holding the lead among large Colorado districts since 2012.

However, results of the 2018 PSAT/SAT exams were disappointing. On this year’s new PSAT 9, ninth-graders significantly underperformed compared with their peers statewide in terms of both status and growth. Board Member Carrie Olson expressed interest in hearing from both students and teacher leaders once they’ve had time to analyze the data.

Students from all demographic groups have made sustained academic progress. For example, students of color gained seven points in English language arts proficiency over the past three years, and English language learners now significantly outperform their peers statewide — but DPS still continues to see persistent gaps in performance.

DPS is studying these results carefully, and will come back to the board to discuss areas of interest at future Focus on Achievement sessions. Read the full presentation about this year’s assessment results here.

Community Dialogs About How to Best Remove Barriers for Special Education Students

The Student Equity and Opportunity department provided a written report on the 27 community engagement sessions it held over the summer with families and educators to learn how to best support special education students. Sessions were held throughout the summer and focused on how to remove barriers for students with disabilities, especially students of color. In all, 13,904 stakeholders engaged via email, direct mail or social media, and 249 individuals participated.

Some themes identified included needs for:

  • collaboration and communication between schools, families and central supports;
  • clarity around information, process, roles and decisionmaking;
  • stronger alignment between special educators and general educators, including aligned professional learning opportunities;
  • additional time, talent and staffing.

You can read the full report here. More information about the engagement sessions is available at