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Denver, CO - 2022

Summary of Findings

This summary highlights major findings about students’ academic performance in public K-12 schools in Denver, Colorado. Performance is measured by one-year learning gains or growth students made from one school year to the next. We benchmark Denver students’ growth against the state average growth and then compare the progress of charter and innovation school students with that of similar traditional district school students within Denver, accounting for student characteristics.


Overall:

Students in Denver posted stronger learning gains compared to the state average in both reading and math throughout the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years.

Sector:

In both reading and math, Denver charter students made stronger learning gains than the state average over the two growth periods. Students in Denver innovation schools exhibited stronger growth in reading than the state average in both growth years, while stronger growth for math is observed in 2017-18 growth period only. In 2017-18 growth period, district students in Denver made stronger learning gains in math only, while in 2018-19 growth period, district students in Denver outperformed the state average in reading, while grow similarly in math.

Comparisons of sectors within Denver indicate there is significant difference in learning gains in reading between innovation and district schools in 2017-18 growth period, and between charter and district schools in 2018-19 growth period. For math, charter schools exhibited greater learning gains than district schools in 2018-19, while no significant difference in growth was found for either between innovation and district schools or between innovation and charter schools.

A deeper dive into Denver student growth for the period ending in Spring 2019 reveals the following findings:

Charter School Type:

Denver charter schools affiliated with a Charter Management Organization (CMO) make greater progress in both reading and math compared to the state average. Students attending Denver independent charter schools outperform average student in the state in reading while exhibiting similar learning gains in math. Within the Denver charter sector, there is no significant difference in learning gains between CMOs and independent charter schools in either reading or math.

Race/Ethnicity:

Overall, Denver black students make similar learning gains in both reading and math compared to the state average black student. Breakout analyses by sector suggest that black students enrolled in charter schools show greater growth in reading and math than the average black student in the state. Denver innovation and traditional district school black students grow similarly in both subjects compared to the state average. Shifting the focus to sector comparison within Denver, black students enrolled in charter schools post stronger growth than district school black students in both subjects. There is no significant difference in learning gains in reading or math between black students in Innovation schools and black students in district schools within Denver.

Denver Hispanic students overall show stronger growth in reading and math than the average Hispanic student in the state. Sector breakout analyses reveal that Hispanic students in Denver charter schools make greater progress in both reading and math relative to the average Hispanic student statewide. Hispanic students enrolled in Denver innovation show stronger growth in reading, but grow similarly in math when compared to the average Hispanic student in the state. Hispanic students in district schools make similar learning gains compared to the average Hispanic student in the state in both subjects. Cross-sector comparisons within Denver indicate stronger growth among charter school Hispanic students than growth among district school Hispanic students in both subjects. No significant difference in reading and math growth is found between students in Denver innovation school Hispanic students and district school Hispanic students.

Poverty, ELL, and Special Education:

Denver students living in poverty overall post greater learning gains in both reading and math compared to the average student living in poverty in the state. Sector breakout analyses show stronger growth in both subjects among students in poverty enrolled in Denver charter schools relative to the state average of students living in poverty. Denver innovation and district school students in poverty demonstrate similar growth in both subjects compared to the average student in poverty statewide. Comparisons of sectors within Denver demonstrate charter school students in poverty outperform district school students in poverty in both reading and math, while no significant difference in learning gains is found between innovation school students in poverty and district school students in poverty in either subject.

English Language Learners (ELLs) in Denver as a whole demonstrate greater learning gains in reading and math relative to the average ELL student in the state. School sector breakout analyses indicate that when compared to the statewide average ELL, Denver ELLs in charter schools make greater progress in both reading and math, while ELLs in Denver innovation schools post similar learning gains in both subjects. ELL students in district schools exhibit similar learning gains in both subjects compared to the state average of ELL students. Cross-sector comparisons within Denver indicate that ELLs students enrolled in innovation schools show stronger gains when compared to their peers in district schools, while there is no other significant sector differences in learning gains in both subjects.

Denver students receiving special education services overall exhibit stronger growth in both reading and math. Breakout analyses by sector suggest that special education students enrolled in Denver charter and district schools outpace the average student in special education statewide in both subjects, while no significant difference in learning gains is found between special education students served by Denver innovation schools relative to the state average of students in special education in either subject. The only significant difference surfacing from cross-sector comparisons within Denver is that special education students in charter schools make greater gains in reading than special education students in traditional district schools.

Gender:

Both male and female students in Denver overall post stronger reading and math growth than the average student of the same gender in the state. The patterns of learning gains for students by gender mirror each other when broken down by school sector. Male and female students studying in Denver charter schools outperform the average student of the same gender statewide in both reading and math. Male students enrolled in Denver innovation schools make similar learning gains in both subjects relative to the state average of the same gender group, while female students in innovation schools outpace their peers in statewide only in reading. Male students enrolled in Denver district schools make stronger learning gains in both subjects relative to the state average of male students, whereas female students in district schools outperform their peers in statewide only in reading.

Comparisons of sectors within Denver reveal that male students enrolled in charter outperform the male students enrolled in the district schools in math, and male students in innovation schools show similar gains in both subjects compare to the district school male students. Female students in charter schools make greater learning gains in reading and math than female students in Denver district schools, while female students in innovation schools grow similarly than the female students in Denver district schools.


Presentation of Findings

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