June 6, 2024
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Closing the Chapter on 2023-24
Dear Team DPS,

It’s hard to believe we are at the end of the 2023-24 school year! This academic year has proven to be a remarkable year of learning, improvement and achievement for our students, staff, families and community.

Our district has many accomplishments to be proud of this year, and here are some notable highlights worthy of celebration:

  • The four-year graduation rate for the class of 2023 increased by 2.5 percentage points to 79% from the previous year. This graduation rate is an all-time high for DPS and is the second consecutive year we have reached our best four-year graduation rate.
  • Over 5,000 students graduated in the Class of 2024, with more than 1,000 of them receiving the Seal of Biliteracy, making every one in five graduates fluent in two or more languages. Watch the video recap of this year’s event.
  • This year, 11,860 students completed Career and Technical Education courses, an increase from 10,255 students in 2022-23. This indicates students are engaging in rigorous and high-interest courses, which typically lead to increased graduation rates. 
  • In a new partnership with Tutored by Teachers, 11th-grade students at district-run schools received free SAT prep at the start of the spring semester. This marked a significant step in leveling the playing field for high school students, especially those without access to preparatory resources.
  • The Saturday School program served 41 schools and 3,691 students and positively impacted math, literacy, computer science and social-emotional learning. In recent surveys, the program received a 4.5 out of 5 rating, underscoring the significant value it brings to our community.
  • Schools, teams and Community Hubs across the district came together to support our 3,500+ newcomer students through multilingual education programs, the recruitment of bilingual and newcomer teachers, reliable transportation, nutritious meals and essential learning resources. 
  • The district expanded Extended Learning and Community Schools (ELCS), which provide DPS students with a safe, enriching place to continue their studies, explore new skills and make friends during out-of-school time. 
  • Discovery Link expanded to 10 new schools, bringing the program to 59 DPS elementary schools, serving over 8,500 students. Next school year, we will add Discovery Link to another 11 DPS schools, increasing services to over 9,000 students.
  • ELCS Enrichment collaborated with hundreds of DPS community partners to provide over 5,000 students with single-subject offerings after school, including chess, coding, cooking, art, music, STEAM and more.
  • ELCSports, a district-run elementary school athletics program, enabled over 1,000 students from 38 schools to participate in fall soccer, winter basketball and spring flag football. All DPS elementary schools will have the program by the 2025-26 school year.
  • The DPS Esports program launched at 19 schools and recently held its first Esports Tournament. With three teams already competing in the Colorado High Schools Activities Association (CHSAA) State Tournament and more interest growing, we’re enthusiastic about the prospects of our growing Esports community.
  • The 2024 STEAM Expo celebrated our students' creativity and innovation with interactive exhibits and hands-on activities for kids of all ages. The event included live student performances, a science fair and community partner booths.
  • The third annual Achieving Excellence Academy will run as a four-week program from June 7 to July 3. This cultural summer program highlights the experiences of Black/African-American, Latinx, Asian-American/Pacific Islander and Native American/Indigenous families, students and educators.
  • All elementary collaboratives have shown an increase or stability in average attendance. This year, 89% of elementary and 80% of secondary collaboratives have decreased or stabilized chronic absenteeism rates compared to 2022-23.
  • DPS achieved a perfect score in the compliance category of the Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) Special Education District Yearly Determination Report. This report evaluates how well school districts follow the rules and regulations for special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 
  • The Black Student Success (BSS) team was formed and is now led by former Stedman Elementary principal, Michael Atkins. The BSS team will continue its work with a small cohort of schools with impactful numbers of Black students. Read this news article to learn more.
  • DPS launched the “La Raza” Report, which offers thorough recommendations for improving experiences for Latino students, families and employees. Work has already begun with the Latinx Student Success (LSS) team, which will be led by current Grant Ranch Elementary Principal, Dr. Patricia Hurrieta. The LSS team will strive to meet the recommendations outlined in the “La Raza” Report and amplify Latinx student achievement. 
  • More than 200 DPS and charter schools in the district were part of a comprehensive safety audit. Each building assessment was incredibly detailed and included a thorough review, giving schools clear guidance on how to immediately improve their buildings’ safety. The result of this audit was that our buildings are safe!
  • Responsive Arts and STEAM Academy (RASA), located on the Ceylon Campus, is nearing completion thanks to the 2020 bond measure approved by Denver voters. The school will officially open its doors to students at the start of the 2024-25 school year.
  • As a result of the Colorado Electric School Bus Grant program, DPS added 20 new electric buses to our fleet for a total of 23 buses. This improved air quality and saved the district money on fuel and maintenance costs.
  • DPS was one of several school districts invited to attend the first-ever White House Summit for Sustainable and Healthy K-12 Buildings and Grounds. Executive Director of Sustainability, LeeAnn Kittle, was a panelist in a conversation focused on equity and justice in school facilities and infrastructure.
  • Nearly 1,000 students and staff participated in this year’s LatinX Student Alliance and Black Student Alliance Banquet and Awards. Over 400 awards were presented to recognize and celebrate the diverse identities, cultures, voices and leadership within our community. 
  • The Culture, Equity and Leadership Team (CELT) and Activities departments collaborated to host the First Annual LGBTQ+ and Allies Student Banquet, which served approximately 200 students from 17 high schools. The day included a keynote speaker, empowerment sessions, student awards and student performances.
  • DPS hired over 60 new educators as part of the recently launched International Educator Institute. This initiative provides extended onboarding, professional development, cultural transition assistance and social and emotional support to our new and current international educators. Read this news article to learn more.
  • DPS and the Denver School Leaders Association (DSLA) came to a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract, which will take effect following DPS Board of Education approval. This is a historical agreement making our leaders the most compensated in Colorado.
  • This year, 15 new assistant principals and one new principal participated in the Denver Lead Today program. The program is a tuition-free, alternative principal preparation program that leads to licensure, as outlined by the Colorado Department of Education.
  • The Ritchie Program for School Leaders is a customized program that is mentored by University of Denver faculty and DPS leaders. It aligns with the DPS LEAD Framework and allows graduates to pursue a Colorado principal license. We are proud to share that 15 Ritchies recently graduated with their principal certificates.
  • The Learn to Lead Denver Principal Residency cultivates future DPS principals by providing aspiring leaders with tools and skills to effect positive change in school communities. Throughout the program’s lifetime, an average of 65% of participants secured principal positions within six months to one year, and 90% secured principal positions within two years.
  • Starting next school year, all education support professionals will receive a minimum of $20 per hour and student employees will start at the new minimum wage of $18.29 per hour.

In addition to celebrating the above districtwide accomplishments, we want to congratulate the Class of 2024! Although their time as DPS students has come to an end, we are grateful to have these 5,000 scholars join our incredible community of DPS alumni. To ensure our new alums continue to thrive beyond DPS, our school communities will continue to be sources of support they can tap into as they embark on their college and career journeys.

Although classes will not be in session over break, I strongly encourage families to continue investing in their children’s learning over the summer. In addition to participating in any of our summer programs or local programs through community partners and the City of Denver, I urge families to prioritize reading with their children or checking in to ensure they are reading independently every day. Help your child continue building upon literacy skills they acquired this year by utilizing these summer reading resources for all ages.

This summer, teams across the district will begin implementing strategies from our Strategic Roadmap to guide improvements for 2024-25, all aimed at enhancing the experiences of adults, students and the overall system. I look forward to sharing more details when we return in the fall. Until then, I wish our entire DPS community a restful, safe and fun summer break!

In collaboration,

Dr. Alex Marrero
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