Giving Compass' Take:

• Melanie Asmar shares the results of a report that found that after more than ten years of school improvement efforts, Dever schools show mixed results. 

• How can funders and districts learn from Denver's efforts? What is next for Denver schools? 

• Learn about Denver's integration pilot program.


The Denver school district is known nationally for ambitious reform efforts aimed at boosting its lowest-performing schools. But the results have been mixed, with some of the most disruptive strategies producing only modest improvements, according to a new report.

The report, called “Denver’s Next Journey: School Improvement,” comes from the organization A Plus Colorado, which has supported many of Denver Public Schools’ reforms but has also criticized the district when it hasn’t executed them well.

The report takes a close look at three strategies in particular. The first provides extra funding and guidance to struggling district-run schools, an intervention the district calls the “tiered support framework.”

Most Denver schools receiving the highest “tier” of extra support showed improvement on the district’s school rating scale, the report finds. The ratings are based largely on student test scores and are controversial in their own right. (More on that here.)

The second strategy is called “year zero redesign.” It involves hiring a new principal and giving that leader a year to redesign a school, all the while keeping the school open and operating under the management of an interim principal.

The sample size is small, but the report found that the four schools where the strategy was deployed in 2015 showed improvement, although two backslid in 2018.

Read the full article about school improvement efforts in Denver by Melanie Asmar at Chalkbeat.