Far Northeast Denver Turnaround
In October 2009, the Foundation convened a group of 30 community and educational leaders to discuss the future of Montbello High School, which at the time was chronically failing. One data point that was shared with these leaders was that out of a starting freshman class of about 1,000 students in 2007, only 14 students were “college ready” according to data from the Colorado Department of Education. The recommendation from the group was to “restart” the school and give it a fresh approach. This convening lead to a larger year-long community engagement process, led by Denver Public Schools and A+ Denver which was called the Far Northeast Community Committee.
The final conclusion was to turnaround the entire feeder pattern of failing schools which included Montbello High School, Rachel B. Noel Middle School, Oakland Elementary School, Barney Ford Elementary School, McGlone Elementary School and Green Valley Elementary School. The first four schools were recommended for “restart” – where the old school is phased out and a new school phases into the existing (or nearby) building. McGlone and Green Valley Elementary Schools were recommended for “turnaround” which resulted in new leadership, the rehiring of staff and significant changes to the existing educational program.
From 2010 – 2015 the Foundation funded and supported the Far Northeast Denver School Turnaround Project which became known as the Denver Summit Schools Network. The network was guided by Harvard Professor Dr. Roland Fryer’s research and the following guiding principles:
1. Excellent Leadership
2. Increased instructional time
3. Daily tutoring in high growth years
4. Culture of high expectations
5. Frequent assessments to improve instruction
By the fall of 2016, the replacements schools where all at full buildout and making progress academically. The replacement schools included:
1. High Tech Academy (9-12)
2. Noel Community Arts (6 -12)
3. DCIS Montbello (6-12)
4. Colligate Prep Academy (9-12)
5. DCIS Ford Elementary
Although these schools are not yet where they need to be to ensure all students in the region have access to a high-quality education, students overall are doing better. And the trends are heading in the right direction. The region is now home to more than 30 different schools, which provides significant school choice.