Are the interventions Denver is using to close achievement gaps actually increasing the success of white students?

The Colorado Department of Education recently released new data on achievement gaps by race. Nic Garcia from Chalkbeat found that in Denver, the gap between white students and students of color is the highest in the state. Even more interesting is that white students, who significantly outperformed students of color in math and English, may also be benefiting from the interventions Denver Public Schools (DPS) has put in place specifically to support students of color.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg said he believes one reason why gaps remain so wide in the state’s largest school district is because white students are benefiting from many districtwide initiatives aimed at improving learning for students of color.

“In some ways, it’s a reflection of how privilege operates in our society,” he said. “Clearly we want to and do offer high-quality supports for all kids and we want to offer a higher level and intensity to our higher-needs schools for the simple fact that those needs are greater.”

While the performance of the district’s white students is good news, DPS is committed to using both targeted and broad sweeping approaches to improve the success of its most vulnerable students. In a targeted approach, DPS is using a significant amount of funds from the 2016 bond and mill to support students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The district is also challenging all schools by assigning a “meets expectations” (Green) quality rating only to those schools that can show academic improvement among all of its student subgroups.


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