What could a bond and mill levy fund? Early literacy and technology

Student wearing headphones in classroom

As you may know, a group of 75 community members from across Denver is helping DPS prioritize investments that could be included in a bond and mill levy request this fall. Over the next few weeks, we want to share with you some additional details about the priorities the Community Planning and Advisory Committee (CPAC) is considering, before they make recommendations to the Board of Education in June.

The priorities were featuring this week are Invest Early and Technology. Why is investing in early literacy so important? How can investing in technology help ensure our students are prepared for post-secondary education and career environments in a digital economy?

Invest Early

Over the past several years, DPS students have made significant gains in literacy. In 2010, just 43% of our third-graders were reading at or above grade level. By 2014, that proficiency increased nearly 10 percentage points to 52% reading at or above grade level.

Were incredibly proud of the progress our students and schools are making, and yet, early literacy remains one of our very top priorities for improvement as identified in the Denver Plan. This is because we know that students who are able to read at grade level by third grade are four times more likely to graduate than students who cannot. And, the new standards established for third-grade reading proficiency, as measured by CMAS, have raised the bar even higher for our students and schools.

Funding from a 2016 mill levy request could support additional investments in early literacy that build upon our current approaches that have proven to be effective. Specifically, additional funding would increase literacy-focused professional learning for all ECE-3rd-grade teachers and add time during the year for collaboration, planning and professional learning. In addition, mill levy funding could support additional interventions for struggling readers.

As the CPAC has been considering investing in early literacy, they’ve reviewed detailed information about proposed approaches to increased professional learning and interventions. Click here to view related presentation materials.

Technology

The CPACs Technology sub-committee is digging into more than 30 critical technology needs that range from classroom technology to improved customer service to supporting student safety. One of the highlights of those needs is increasing access to classroom technology, including a significant move toward 1-to-1 student technology.

Our Shared Core Value of Equity has guided the work of the Technology Subcommittee, and that focus has led toward an initial recommendation of increased funding that would go directly to all schools to enhance classroom technology access. That investment could include $100 per student on the front end as well as a device replacement budget of $50 per student in future years.

The subcommittee is also considering the creation of a pilot program that would fund 1-to-1 student technology in as many as 20 middle and high schools across Denver. The pilot would enable DPS to phase in the costs associated with a 1-to-1 approach, as well as establish best practices in implementing 1-to-1 access, including the option for students to use their devices at home.

Additional classroom and 1-to-1 technology access are just two of the exciting upgrades considered by the Technology subcommittee. 2016 Bond CPAC Technology Subcommittee.

The Community Planning and Advisory Committee still has additional opportunities for involvement during the month of May. Click here to learn more and share your ideas about these potential investments, or contact dustin_kress@dpsk12.org with questions.