Which Denver schools have the most experienced teachers? A new report slices the data

Photo by Nathan W. Armes, Chalkbeat

Compared to teachers in district-run schools, those in Denver charter schools are more likely to be white and have less than five years of experience. Meanwhile, their students are more likely to be students of color.

That’s according to a new report called “Denver’s Next Journey: Investing in Teachers,” from the education advocacy organization A Plus Colorado. The report details efforts by Denver Public Schools over the past decade to recruit, support, and pay its teachers differently.

To set up a discussion of the district’s initiatives, the report starts with an overview of who Denver teachers are. Among the more interesting data are charts that show the percentage of teachers of color and the percentage of experienced teachers broken down by region of the city and by type of school: traditional district-run, innovation, and charter.

Charter schools are publicly funded but independently run. About 29% of Denver’s more than 200 schools are charters. Innovation schools are district-run but have some independence from state and district rules. About 26% of Denver schools are innovation. The remaining 45% of Denver schools are traditional district-run.

The chart below shows the percentage of teachers of color and the percentage of experienced teachers in 2018 broken down by school type, according to data from the Colorado Department of Education.

Research shows benefits for students of color who are taught by teachers of color. One study found black students from low-income families who have even one black teacher in elementary school are more likely to graduate high school.

Other research shows teachers usually improve with experience. Colorado has some of the highest percentages of inexperienced teachers in the nation, and those teachers are more likely to work in high-poverty districts that tend to serve more students of color.

The new report also breaks down the percentage of teachers of color and the percentage of experienced teachers by region of Denver. The contrast between two particular regions — southeast Denver and far northeast Denver — is striking.

Southeast Denver has the highest percentage of experienced teachers, and the lowest percentage of students of color, the report shows.

The reverse is true in far northeast Denver. That region has the lowest percentage of experienced teachers, and the highest percentage of students of color.

However, far northeast Denver also has the highest percentage of teachers of color.

Overall, Denver Public Schools has a higher ratio of teachers of color to students of color than most metro area districts. But there is still a large imbalance: 75% of Denver’s nearly 93,000 students are students of color, but 72% of teachers are white. The Denver district has launched several initiatives to recruit more teachers of color in recent years, with uneven results.

The report also reveals Denver has a low percentage of experienced teachers compared with other metro area districts. A new salary schedule negotiated with the Denver teachers union during a three-day teacher strike seeks to better compensate experienced educators.

Read the full report here.

This story was originally published on Chalkbeat by Melanie Asmar on September 24, 2019. Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization committed to covering the effort to improve schools for all children, especially those who have historically lacked access to a quality education. 

Melanie Asmar covers Denver Public Schools. Asmar previously worked as a reporter for Westword newspaper in Denver and for a daily newspaper in her native New Hampshire. She joined Chalkbeat Colorado in 2015.

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