I looked at the DPS School Performance Framework (SPF) data in a number of different ways. There is some intriguing data, but I found a shorthand that I think serves as a pretty good summary.
Let’s look at the DPS schools with an SPF score equal to 65% or higher of possible SPF points (which is roughly the top quintile). This group comprises the top 27 of the 140 total schools.
Start with these 27 high-performing schools:
Filter #1. Elementary schools (and selective K-8) do pretty well. Fully 21 of the top 27 schools are either elementary (16 schools) or K-8 (7 schools). Full kudos to these 21. The problems at DPS are not primarily at schools with elementary students.
…Subtract these 21 and you have six schools left.
Filter #2. Of the six remaining schools, 2 are selective admissions (DSA and CEC). Good schools both, but if you get to choose your students, you have a bit of an advantage. Partial credit kudos.
…Subtract these 2 and you have four schools left.
That’s pretty much it. After these two filters, there are just four remaining public schools in Denver that are both open admissions and serve primarily middle and high school students. Four.
…Who are these premier four?
Three are charter schools: DSST (ranked #1 overall); WDP (#2); and KIPP (#21). These are now clearly three of the four best open-enrollment middle and high schools in Denver, particularly given that they are all serving a substantial percentage of low-income students (respective FRL of 45%, 93%, and 93%). The top two overall schools in the district are now charters.
The remaining school, the one and only open-enrollment district school without elementary students in the top quintile (with 27% FRL) is East High (#14 overall). Congratulations to East.
So, to put this in perspective, how far down the list of 140 schools do you have to go to find an another open-enrollment middle or high school with a FRL percentage greater than the DPS average of 67%? All the way down to #48.
How many of the lowest performing 27 schools (the bottom quintile) have a higher FRL population than the DPS average? 25 of 27.
Filter #3 is that if you are a low-income student in Denver, your future remains very, very bleak.
Updated Note: I should point out that while KIPP is listed as K-8, the school only has grades 5-8 and I thus consider them a middle school. Any similar updates would be appreciated.