Board of Education Update – Work Session, March 13, 2017

Board Accepts Changes to School Performance Compact  

At the March 13, 2017 work session the Board of Education supported staff recommendations regarding changes to the district’s School Performance Compact (SPC). The policy was created last year to provide a transparent process for how DPS will identify and restart or close the most persistently low-performing schools, both district-run and charter.

Changes for 2017-18 School Year

Beginning this fall, the following changes will take place in the School Performance Compact criteria:

  • Step 1: No longer based on the lowest 5% of schools; going forward, schools will be defined as persistently low-performing if they have SPF ratings of:
    • Red on the most recent SPF; AND
      • Red on the preceding SPF (back-to-back red) OR
      • Orange or red on the two preceding SPFs.
  • Step 2: No changes; continues to be based on growth in the most recent SPF.
  • Step 3: Will be eliminated; School Quality Reviews will still be used for school improvement efforts, but will play no part in restart or closure decisions.

Next Steps

Schools anticipated to be eligible for restart or closure under the new criteria have already been contacted by Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova to help them prepare for next steps with their school communities. The office of Family and Community Engagement will be assisting school leaders with community meetings this spring to answer questions and keep families informed.

You can learn more about the SPC and its role in creating Great Schools in Every Neighborhood at Read the full board presentation here.


Equity Indicator Confirmed for 2017 SPF

The board discussed the use of the equity indicator in the School Performance Framework (SPF). Board members and district leaders discussed the importance of supports for schools to better meet the needs of our higher-need students and close our opportunity gaps. Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova detailed a number of these supports and actions taken by schools to close gaps and meet performance expectations on the equity indicator.

Regarding the implementation of the equity indicator, the board re-affirmed that this was a performance matter for the superintendent to decide.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg said the benefits of implementing the equity indicator this fall outweigh the risks, helping drive important conversations around equity in our district. He said the change management and support to our schools will be critical, but is encouraged by the steps he has already seen school leaders taking to make improvements to support our highest need students.

“This is not new data — it’s been here for decades, unfortunately. What we’re doing is highlighting it,” said Board Member Rachele Espiritu. “It’s time for us to be accountable to the students who, for years, have been experiencing this gap. This is work we need to do as a district and we are going to support our schools in whatever they need. When you hear the real-life stories behind the data about the gaps our students are experiencing, we can’t wait.”

Purpose of the Indicator

The SPF equity indicator was created to:

  • Spotlight the opportunity gaps that exist in even the highest-performing schools in order to focus supports and improve academic achievement for all students.
  • Highlight how schools serve all students — including students of color, English language learners, students with disabilities and students living in poverty — in the areas of math, literacy, science and English acquisition.
  • Create urgency around the efforts schools and the community use to eliminate performance and postsecondary outcome disparities.

“Our school leaders and teachers care passionately about our highest-needs kids. At the same time, in Denver and Colorado and elsewhere, gaps persist,” said Boasberg of the need for the focus on equity. “It’s partly a realization that there are lots of different forces at work in our schools. … There are really strong societal factors that often result in more attention on our kids with more social capital, and the equity indicator is a strong step toward shifting to a culture of equity.”

Read the full presentation here.


Flexibility, Expansion of School-Based Budgeting  

Schools’ flexibility to opt in to district curriculum, assessments and professional development is a key strategy of the Denver Plan 2020. School leaders also have the autonomy to create their own school-based budgets (SBBs). Additional flexibility is available for schools that apply for innovation or charter school status. The board heard an overview of the 2017 flexibility decisions and received a summary of feedback from school leaders about the process of opting in to flexibility decisions.

In addition, the board was asked for feedback about the planned expansion of SBB+ (school-based budgeting plus) to all innovation schools in the 2018-19 school year. SBB+ was developed in concert with the approval of the district’s first innovation zone, the Luminary Learning Network. Its expansion would allow innovation schools additional flexibility to opt in to central support functions and resources.

Read the full presentation here.