In 2019 The Denver school board passed a Black Excellence Resolution to improve how the district serves and celebrates Black students. DPS schools were asked to critically examine current inequitable systems and structures as well as policies and practices that were rooted in racism and had a negative impact on marginalized groups. Additionally, schools engaged in a deep dive into school and student-related data in order to create an action plan to better serve Black students and their families. We are dedicated to helping our Black students succeed at all levels and strongly believe that by supporting Black students, we learn lessons in how to support all students of color in our school. This year, our school created specific goals and next steps around family engagement of Black students and supporting academic growth.
The achievement gap between Black and white students on the 2023 CMAS was 43% in math (a decrease of 20%) and 32% in literacy (an increase of 4%).
Through focused data-driven instructional (DDI) meetings, teachers will focus on specific students within their classrooms to identify growth as compared to white students at least 4 times per year based on the iReady diagnostic. Action plans and next steps for instruction will be documented and tracked in MTSS trackers to ensure students are making adequate growth as related to the school-wide goal of 80% of all students making 1-years growth as determined by the iReady diagnostic.
Our goal is to create meaningful and supportive relationships with Black families by focusing on family engagement. Specifically, as measured by attendance at school events such as Family Conferences and Celebration of Learning, which encourages communication with staff regarding student learning and success.
Our data indicates that engagement of Black families is significantly lower than the school average and in comparison to their white counterparts. During the Trimester 1 Celebration of Learning, 62.5% of Black families attended in comparison to the school average of 86.5% and 93% of white families. During Fall Family Conferences, 70.83% of Black families attended whereas the school average was 89% and 94% of white families.
Last school year, we did not meet our 22-23 family engagement goals. As discussed by the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT), our staff will make additional efforts with outreach utilizing Bloomz messaging as an initial message, followed by a phone call, then in person conversations at pickup/dropoff and potentially a home visit if possible to engage our Black families. Our hope is to increase Black family engagement to 70% for Celebration of Learning and 82% for Spring Family Conferences.
Historically, Black and brown students are suspended at disproportionate rates. Black students in DPS make up 13.7% of the student population, yet the out-of-school suspension percentage is 27%. At Inspire Elementary, our 22-23 data indicates that 0% of Black students received out of school suspensions and 89.5% of disciplinary actions of Black students were resolved using restorative approaches.
Beyond the Black Excellence Plan
While our Black Excellence Plan includes goal setting and outcomes of academic growth and family engagement (Celebrations of Learning and Family Conferences), we also seek to engage students and families in ways that may not be measured or tracked. Student and family engagement will also include a student Black Alliance group in 3rd – 5th grades, hosting a Black Family night, encouraging home visits of Black families and engaging the Collaborative School Committee and Parent Teacher Organization to examine the recruitment of Black families.
Archive Summaries Regarding Black Excellence
What we can learn from a focus on our Black students is how to transfer our support to other groups of students. We look at data and the impact of academic and social emotional instruction for all our student groups. Our demographic data shows that we currently have less than 1% American Indian / Alaska Native, 5% Asian, 8% Black or African American, 12% Two or more races, 23% Hispanic, and 75% white. Our student population also consists of 6% ELL (English Language Learners), 6% Special Education students, 21% Free Reduced Lunch students.
During the 2021-2022 school year, a small cohort of staff (two Administrators and three members of the Instructional Leadership Team) completed the Equity Experience. The Equity Experience is the result of what is outlined in the Black Excellence Resolution driven by the Board of Education, which calls for “training all members of Team DPS in implicit bias and culturally responsive education on an ongoing basis.” This cohort of staff then facilitated turnkey professional development for the rest of the staff during PD Days during the school year.
This past school year (2022-2023), the remainder of our instructional staff (teachers, interventionists, ELD) and support staff (Counselor, Social Worker, Front Office) will complete the Equity Experience module. After modules were completed, turnkey professional development sessions were facilitated during PD days. In addition, administration completed the second series of DPS’ Equity Modules. This second year of equity PD was intended to strengthen and build upon the work that was completed during the prior year.
As we head into a new school year(2023-2024), we will form a committee consisting of administration, Senior Team Lead, Dean of Culture, and teaching staff to help drive the next steps of equity work at Inspire Elementary.