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Prioritizing Equity as we ReEnvision District Accountability

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

With one of the most shameful achievement gaps in the country, Denver continually fails to prioritize our students with an unacceptable state framework. Students of color are far less likely to be prepared for college by graduation than their white peers, even when they’re under the same roof. If we want to see our children succeed, and lead lives filled with opportunities, then we must re-evaluate the state framework and demand not only just accountability but consistent action from DPS.

As a state, Colorado saw significant decreases in performances in SAT scores compared to 2018. 64.6% of White students met the college-ready benchmark while a disproportionate 18.2% of black students and 21.5% of Hispanic students met the college-ready benchmark. Instead of taking appropriate measures to address this glaring issue the state collectively decided that this was an “anomaly”. Consequently, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) cut scores for acceptable ratings this year, only with the intention of returning to original standards this upcoming year. In other words, even though students’ performance scores were drastically lower this year, this will not be reflective of the school's/district’s performances. This has major implications on our students, as they will directly face the consequences of this decision on their college applications. The school’s/district's get to walk believing they’ve succeeded while simultaneously failing our students.

Unfortunately, students across every socio-economic background underperformed on the SAT’s. White, black, and Hispanic students all saw a decrease in the percentage of students meeting college-ready expectations in both Reading/Writing and Math from 2018 to 2019, but that doesn’t eliminate the overall gap between students of color and their white peers. The 2019 CMAS scores also show a glaring disparity of students meeting or exceeding performance levels with an average of 3 out of 10 black students meeting or exceeding expectations, and an average of 7 out of 10 white students meeting or exceeding expectations. All schools with these chronic achievement and opportunity gaps need to be held accountable for their failures through the following:

  • Providing ongoing anti-racist and implicit bias training

  • Conducting regular audits of student access disparities

  • Adopting a quality indicator that guarantees a school cannot be blue or green if there are large gaps between students of color and white students

Ultimately, the burden of schools’ failure is falling on the students and their learning. By refusing to address inequity in education, schools are allowing students to suffer. As we begin to re-evaluate school performance we must prioritize equity and have measures of accountability in place. Every student is brilliant, and they deserve to be treated as such. We will not stop until 10 out of 10 students across DPS are receiving the highest quality education to prepare them for a life of opportunities and success.


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