Colorado High School Charter is the Highest Performing AEC in Denver Public Schools
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Colorado High School Charter (CHSC) made history this week by rising to Green or “meeting expectations” on this year’s School Performance Framework (SPF), becoming the first alternative education campus to be on the State’s Accountability Clock for five years before completing a turnaround to Green status. For the last five years CHSC has been rated as a failing school and at one point was rated as the second lowest performing Alternative Education Campus (AEC) in Denver. In an impressive reversal, this year’s SPF reported CHSC as green and the highest performing of Denver’s Public School’s 20 AECs.
CHSC serves Denver’s most vulnerable youth 85% qualify for free and reduced lunch, over 50% have been involved in the criminal justice system, and 70% have been victims of trauma. Most of these young people have had an extremely difficult time finding success in traditional schools. On average CHSC students have attended 2-3 high schools before finding Colorado High School Charter. Yet, these students have thrived over the past 2-3 years at CHSC with dropout rates decreasing 10 percentage points, attendance rates increasing 7%, and test scores increasing more than 30%.
The school leadership identifies community partnerships as a key lever to improving student achievement. Over the past three years CHSC teamed up with Colorado Youth for a Change providing all students with Student Advocates who help to remove barriers that would otherwise prevent students from finding success. CHSC also partners with Art Street and Youth on Record to provide students with fine arts experiences that often serve as a catalyst for re-engaging in positive productive outcomes. Students are also given the opportunity to learn through concurrent enrollment with Emily Griffith Technical College, Community College of Denver, and Metro State. The total number of graduates has increased from 13 to over 50 in the 2015-16 school year last year. Beyond merely attaining a diploma CHSC graduates also earned numerous accredited certificates in nursing, welding, cosmetology, and water treatment.
This year, CHSC opened its first satellite campus in the Globeville Elyria Swansea (GES) neighborhood becoming the first secondary school in the underserved GES community. The GES campus enrolled over 90 students this year and though a partnership with Colorado Construction Institute students not only earn credits toward their diploma but also receive instruction and earn certificates in construction and the building trades.
Colorado High School Charter serves as an example of the success that’s possible when innovative leadership, accountability, community partnerships, and hard work come together to serve our city’s most vulnerable youth.