Board of Education Meeting Update – September 7, 2017 Special Meeting and Focus on Achievement Session

New Teachers Contract Approved

At a special meeting, the Board of Education approved a strong new five-year collective bargaining agreement for DPS teachers.

DPS and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) reached an agreement Sept. 1, which replaces the previous master agreement.

The new agreement includes several major revision areas, including strong social and emotional supports for students, and the most generous compensation offer in the metro area for teachers.

DPS and DCTA communicated the details of the contract on Sept. 1. You can read more about the details here.

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg said, “We believe that we are a stronger district – one that can better recruit and retain teachers, and better educate our kids – when DPS and DCTA are united in addressing the challenges you, our educators, face. We remain focused on supporting our educators and our students, and appreciate DCTA’s shared commitment to our vision that Every Child Succeeds.”

Board President Anne Rowe said it was an honor to work with a district that honors and supports our teachers. “Throughout the state of Colorado, most other districts are not able to offer significant increases in compensation for their teachers. On average, our teachers will receive a 5% increase to their pay. We know that all teachers should be paid more. This is a commitment by Denver Public Schools to our teachers, and it matters.”

2016-17 District-wide Student Achievement Results Show Record Gains 

After the special meeting, the Board convened its Focus on Achievement session where they took a deep dive into data demonstrating record student gains in student achievement district-wide last school year.

“The vision and clarity of the board’s Denver Plan 2020 gave DPS clear goals and the direction we needed to create strategies that allowed us to focus on critical work,” said Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova. She credited much of the gains to the district’s focus on early literacy, teacher leadership, progress monitoring, flexibility, tiered supports, whole child supports and building the capacity of school leaders. Three panels of school leaders shared their insights on these areas of focus with the board throughout the discussion.

Early Literacy

Last year, DPS began work on a new, comprehensive Early Literacy plan with the goal of ensuring at least 80% of our students are reading at or above grade level by third grade. Since implementing the plan, we’ve seen strong growth in just one year — in fact, one third more k-3 students were reading at grade level at the end of last year compared to the previous year, and we saw our biggest gains ever in statewide third grade reading assessments. Reading by third grade is an important milestone because research shows that students who are reading by third grade are four times more likely to graduate. Additionally, students across all grade levels are experiencing significant increases in reading proficiency — including on both our English and Spanish language arts assessments.

“This is truly extraordinary and shows all of us what is possible,” said Board President Anne Rowe. “I think this was incredibly intentional work to prepare for extraordinary results.”

College and Career Readiness

In order to meet our Denver Plan goal of ensuring our students are ready for college and career, we are focused on increasing our four-year graduation rate for students who start ninth grade in DPS up to 90% and we want to double the number of students who graduate college and career ready.

Advanced Placement (AP) and Concurrent Enrollment have long been touted as proven strategies to postsecondary readiness, and in DPS, these numbers continue to climb. During the 2016-17 school year, DPS increased the number of both AP and concurrent enrollment courses taken by 14%. The largest number of AP exams in DPS history were taken last school year, which translates to 823 more exams passed by students, intensifying the potential for free college credit. While growing the programs, the district simultaneously improved scores across all subject areas — a significant accomplishment given that participation growth is traditionally linked with a decline in scores.

“I think it’s great that we are seeing so many more students doing this,” said Board Member Rachele Espiritu, adding that she’d like to explore the distinctions in scores between English and math further.

Board Member Mike Johnson said he was intrigued by the idea that “taking a concurrent enrollment or AP class might be a better predictor of college success than how well you do on the SAT,” and encouraged the district to continue probing the data about the success of these programs.

You can read the full presentation and see detailed data here.