In 2005, Denver Public Schools were on the verge of crisis – both financial and educational. One-third of its 98,000 seats sat vacant, while fewer than 40 percent of high school students were graduating on time.
But over the past decade, Denver has emerged as the fastest-improving school district in the state of Colorado and one of the leading examples of urban reform nationwide. Enrollment has climbed, on-time graduation rates have risen from 39 to 65 percent, and the percentage of students scoring at grade level in core academic subjects has risen by 15 percentage points. Meanwhile, voters have responded to the progress by electing a 7-0 majority to the school board in support of superintendent Tom Boasberg’s package of reforms.
How has Denver done it?
In this week’s episode of the EdNext podcast, Marty West, executive editor of Education Next, talks about Denver with David Osborne, director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Reinventing America’s Schools Project and the author of a new article “Denver Expands Choice and Charters,” that was published this week on the EdNext website.
As Osborne explains, the school district’s basic approach has been closing failing schools and replacing them with better schools.