In August, the Denver Public Schools Board of Education will consider what changes they will make to the School Performance Framework or SPF. We as parents have to advocate for our children and monitor under a magnifying glass the decisions that are made in schools.
The Reimagine the SPF committee recommended three changes to the SPF: The school district should move to the state SPF for performance monitoring and accountability structures, create a dashboard that provides parents with transparent information about the culture and makeup of each school, and build continual improvement plans in partnership with the community to ensure schools have what they need to thrive.
I am concerned that some are asking the board not to implement the dashboard. To support our children, it is necessary that parents have information about what is happening at school, and without the dashboard we will not have access to information to be able to advocate.
The state SPF does not accurately represent the performance of our Latino children who are learning the English language. Additionally, the over-reliance on this tool for ACT and SAT scores for high school students has also been shown to misrepresent the aptitude of Latino students.
How will we know that the disciplinary measures taken against our children are fair without access to data on suspensions and expulsions? It is critical that every student feels safe and not denigrated.
The dashboard will help us achieve equity in public schools. It will inform us if there are adequate resources in all schools, which are necessary for a quality education. It will have data on teacher turnover, training, opportunities for professional development, and other key data for parents, students, and teachers.
There has been a lot of teacher turnover in our neighborhood the past two years. It affected the students. They were replaced with younger, less experienced teachers. They did not have the capacity to serve high school students. This resulted in disorientation and uncertainty for the students. It happens very often in northeast Denver.
How will we know that the disciplinary measures taken against our children are fair without access to data on suspensions and expulsions? It is critical that every student feels safe and not denigrated. If the system is not transparent, how are we going to trust that a school is serving our children well?
Details about the school principal’s leadership style would also be helpful to see. There is a big difference when the school principal is inclusive. In my experience, when the leader isn’t bilingual, communication is more complex. But when the individual is willing and interested in learning about the needs of students, families, and the community – that’s when a school progresses.
Another idea for the new tool will be for each school to have its own narrative. If parents, teachers, and community members participate in writing the narrative, they will take ownership and dedicate themselves to their aspirations for the school.
The School Board must adopt the three recommendations made by the Reimagine the SPF Committee. Relying only on the state SPF is not enough. Denver parents deserve to know more about their schools to make the best decisions for their children and support their success. Contact your school board member before the vote in August. (DPS Board members:720-423-3210, firstname.lastname@example.org). Make it a new era of transparency in the Denver Public Schools, with a focus on excellence for students.
Rosario Mendoza is a Denver Public Schools parent and a volunteer with Together Colorado. She lives in northeast Denver.
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