For immediate release
October 22, 2018
Denver Teachers Call for End to Denver’s School Performance Framework System
DENVER – The Denver Public Schools is the only school district in the state that has developed its own School Performance Framework rating, with the others all following the School Performance Framework system created and used by the Colorado Department of Education. Since the SPF ratings were released by Denver Public Schools last week, there has been an outcry of anger by teachers and school leaders who feel that the system is deeply flawed or even purposefully manipulated each year by the District. Today, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association officially calls on DPS to end its SPF system and solely use the system created and maintained by the Colorado Department of Education.
Every year, we see the District make changes to its SPF system that results in school ratings being inconsistent and hard to compare to other Districts, or even past years within DPS. All of this, according to the District, is meant to set “higher standards.” In reality, is has allowed DPS to tell the narrative it wants to spin. Two years ago, the SPF was used as justification to close Gilpin. Last year, during a School Board election year, schools were boosted in an attempt to win community buy-in. This year, schools were again penalized by DPS.
When comparing the DPS SPF ratings to the CDE SPF preliminary ratings, 32 schools were lowered by DPS from a Green rating to a Yellow rating. Further, 6 schools were rated Red by DPS that were rated higher (either Orange or Yellow) by CDE. In a true choice district, this has massive ramifications for the communities in which these schools reside. School communities take pride in knowing that what they are working towards is recognized by their school district and their state. By changing the measures and going away from CDE’s measure we risk the loss of highly effective teachers, leaders, and families who will go to school districts where their work is recognized and appreciated. This will create a loss in opportunities for all students.
We have spoken with District leaders about our concerns both this year and in years past, and each time the District claims that changes either were made with input from school leaders, or will involve teacher and community input in the future. This year, however, the District told principals of some of the planned changes 3 days after the decisions were made and listened to almost none of their concerns. We do not have confidence that the District or DPS Board are really interested in feedback on their SPF from anyone, including school leaders, teachers, or parents.
To be clear, with regard to the Academic Gap Indicator, we believe that we must, as a district, keep working to make sure that our schools serve all of our students, especially including those with the highest needs. We do not, however agree that this specific measure is the way to do it, nor does it paint an accurate picture of what is happening in our schools. By only looking at portions of certain tests, the District is creating a system that furthers institutionalized racism and promotes segregation and homogenized student populations. We believe that the District should focus on whole child supports and not just test scores. This measure is unfair to those students it is supposed to be helping and is not acceptable.
Denver teachers call on the Denver Public School District to eliminate the DPS SPF system and instead use the CDE system, as does every other District in the state. It is time to put students and school communities first.