Advocacy groups urge DPS board to be transparent on catch-up plans

A coalition of seven education advocacy groups is putting the Denver school board on notice that it needs to start the school year by focusing on the most pressing issues facing Denver Public Schools, its students and families.

In a letter delivered to the board today (August 4), the groups expressed concern about the lack of clarity coming from DPS about academic outcomes for individual students, and the district’s plans to address the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two academic years.

“We are extremely concerned about the hearts and minds of our students as they prepare to start the new school year,” the letter opens.

The coalition asks that the school board, during its inaugural 2021-22 retreat to be held next week, address the following topics:

  • “…a public discussion on academic outcomes that includes literacy and math proficiency scores disaggregated by race and income levels.”
  • “…a school by school analysis of student needs for academic intervention that is grounded in racial equity.”
  • “…a tiered support system to ensure that resources are going to students who need them the most.”
  • “…a protocol for the smooth re-entry of students – a large percentage of whom have not taken part in typical classroom learning in over 18 months.”

This year’s budget also lacks transparency about how tens of millions of dollars in federal stimulus dollars will be spent on “evidence-based interventions that address learning loss.”

“This Board has conducted virtually no public discussion during this pivotal time on how the infusion of dollars will be spent. How can the district be strategic about spending this funding if we still don’t know how students are doing at each school across the city?”

The letter concludes with a plea to the board:

“Nearly half of families surveyed by TEN this year did not feel their children were ready to move on to the next grade level.  We cannot overstate the urgency of articulating what your plan is to address each of these points, in order to ensure all students are on a clear path to academic achievement.”

It is signed by African Leadership Group, The Latino Education Coalition, Our Turn, Padres y Jovenes Unidos, Servicios de la Raza, Stand for Children, and Transform Education Now (TEN).