Original article from the DPS Board of Education Update for June 10, 2019
Tonight, Superintendent Susana Cordova shared a progress update on her Entry Plan, which is the roadmap for the first phase of her district leadership and gives an overview of the specific action steps she has taken to launch DPS’ streamlined focus on Equity, Instructional Excellence and Collaborative Teamwork. She shared updates on from teachers, leaders, students and community members of what is working well as well as constructive feedback so that we can better meet the needs of all students in DPS.
Twenty-seven of the 30 action items in the entry plan are complete or on-track for completion. Some of these items will continue as strategies in 2019-20 and others will inform how DPS does its work moving forward.
Since taking office in January, Superintendent Cordova has been reaching out to people across the DPS community — from students and teachers to community leaders and families — to connect around a common understanding of what really matters most. She shared with the board what she’s been hearing, seeing and learning from the more than 2,000 community members, parents, students, teachers, leaders, support and central office staff members she has connected with this spring.
“Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of hearing from several of our alumni, learning about their experiences in DPS and how these have shaped who they have become as young adults,” said Superintendent Cordova. “I’ve heard a stronger push for more independence earlier, and for stronger preparation for rigorous college-level work.”
Stakeholders were also asked to name the top things they are most excited about that happened in DPS and in their schools during the last three years.
“School staff reported enthusiasm about the new teacher contract; principals and charter leaders were most excited about autonomy and the family of schools. And community members were most excited about new leadership and community engagement,” said Superintendent Cordova.
To learn more about Superintendent Cordova’s entry plan efforts, visit superintendent.dpsk12.org.
Read the full presentation here.
DPS asked Antwan Jefferson, Ph.D., professor at the University of Colorado-Denver, to perform a comprehensive assessment of current efforts to transform DPS into an equity-focused school district — including a review of districtwide data, several Denver Board of Education resolutions, and the findings and recommendations of multiple task forces.
Dr. Jefferson noted that DPS should start by emphasizing the four suggested priority areas in order to increase the potential impact. This type of intersectional approach will help the district address the other identity issues that families and children have and experience in school. He also determined that the district’s current efforts will provide a good foundation to build on as DPS creates a unified equity plan that will benefit every student and involve every employee.
“I found quite a bit of potential for basing a Unified Equity Plan that infiltrates and helps to set course — for the entire district, the surrounding community, and everyone from students across to employees in the district — on a framework that is consistent with what is already in place with the Shared Core Values in the Denver Plan 2020.” said Dr. Jefferson. “If equity becomes the central, guiding identity of the district, it becomes everyone’s responsibility.”
Leaders from Equity, Academics and Schools teams presented an update on the work outlined by the Black Excellence Resolution. Leslie Juniel, Executive Director of Equity and Culture, Tamara Acevedo, Deputy Superintendent of Academics, and Michael Ramirez, Deputy Superintendent of Schools, shared how the Black Excellence Resolution, along with Dr. Jefferson’s report, will inform DPS’ work to accelerate academic achievement for black and African American students.
“Equity belongs to all of us. It can be centered and expertly supported in one department, but everyone has to take the responsibility and ownership of what equity is,” said Leslie Juniel. “This really is exciting to see that we’re starting to talk the same language, and we understand the challenges of each others’ work, and we’re there to help figure it out together,” she said.
“Our work as a district, within our new organization, is to help support people in the capacity to act,” said Tamara Acevedo. “Part of our challenge in supporting is understanding how we develop the people who are supporting the schools to be able to work with leaders on the vision for equity in their school, based on what they’ve done, connected and aligned to our overall districtwide equity goals.”
“There’s an opportunity to share ownership of the narrative and the ability to define what black excellence is with the African American community,” said board member Jennifer Bacon.
Read the full presentation here.