Denver Public Schools Receive Great News
The Denver Public Schools (DPS) was recently the recipient of great news on multiple fronts. I just received the following (slightly edited) email from Superintendent Boasberg about a multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education:
Denver Public Schools was chosen to receive an Investing in Innovation, or i3, grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education in the amount of up to $25 million. A total of 1,698 entries were submitted for the $650 million in federal grants available, and 49 winners have been named. DPS was the only school district in the nation chosen to receive one of the top two award categories. Along with DPS’ receipt of $10 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for improving educator effectiveness and $8 million from the Federal Government for expanding its innovative teacher residency program, this is the third major national competition DPS has been fortunate to win in the last year. Together these three national awards are bringing $50 million into the district.
This innovation grant will enable [DPS] to significantly improve the reading and literacy skills of [its] middle school students, which is critical to preparing them for high school and ensuring they are on track to graduate. It will help [DPS] close the achievement gap and meet the educational needs of [its] English language learners.
The grant will fund a program called Collaborative Strategic Reading Colorado (CSR-CO). The mission of CSR-CO is to improve literacy and bi-literacy instruction and achievement in schools with high numbers of ELL students. About 5,200 Denver students will be directly impacted by the project in eight DPS middle schools. These schools will implement strategies used successfully in linguistically diverse classrooms across subject areas to address the linguistic and academic needs of English-language learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities at the middle school level. Martin Luther King Jr., Early College and Merrill Middle School will be the first two schools to implement CSR-CO.
The Investing in Innovation grant is part of the $5 billion investment in school reform in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The final amount DPS will receive is contingent on the district securing a 20 percent private-sector match by September 8.
DPS also received great news about its increased high school graduation rate which reflects incredible improvement in DPS’s programming:
Preliminary estimates show a graduating class of 3,250 students in the Class of 2010, which is a 12.4% jump over the previous year—an increase of 350 graduates. Both Bruce Randolph and Martin Luther King Jr., Early College graduated their first classes in 2010, and South, East, Lincoln and George Washington high schools in particular have seen significant increases. Abraham Lincoln High School in Southwest Denver has more than tripled the size of its graduating class since 2004. George Washington’s graduating class has increased by 19% over that time; East’s grew by about 18%, and South’s by about 11%.
DPS has nearly doubled the number of high school students who are taking Advanced Placement courses and concurrently enrolling in college courses while still in high school. This is critical both to increasing graduation rates and college readiness. DPS states that the Denver Scholarship Foundation should also be credited with making this possible. The Denver Scholarship Foundation has awarded 1,658 scholarships to DPS students totaling $5.2 million. In 2010, Denver Scholarship Foundation Future Centers helped students identify over $24.5 million in outside scholarships.
In the midst of the news gloom, it is refreshing and encouraging to receive such bright and hopeful news.
Congratulations are due to Denver Public Schools.
By Jack D. Robinson