Overview: Informed by a process of regional community dialogues hosted by community members throughout Denver, CO in February and March 2020, this report was developed to address the ways in which families of Denver Public Schools (DPS; the District) students make decisions about their children’s education and options for schooling. The researchers were interested in knowing whether the information provided to parents by DPS included the types of information that families consider valuable or important to their decision-making. Additionally, because DPS has begun a process of rethinking its School Performance Framework, this report reflects a coordinated effort to hear from a range of community members, families of DPS students, to understand more broadly what types of information are useful to families, including, but not limited to, the SPF.
Purpose/Objective: Our purpose was to discover, understand, and report genuine perspectives of families throughout the City, representing the various types of information used to make schooling/educational decisions for their children. Another purpose was to encourage high authenticity while minimizing control of the environment or the nature of the discussion. By working with a range of community members and organizations throughout Denver, we sought to gather authentic perspectives that were not influenced by unfamiliar or potentially disruptive influences, trusting instead that community dialogue can be a resource for informing public education systems. We also hoped to engage a wide and diverse set of perspectives–another benefit of working with community organizations–to find opportunities to learn and uncover underlying needs that prevent, or encourage quality schools in Denver.
One question guided our inquiry, and this same question was used as a prompt for each regional community conversation: What information do you rely on or wish to have in making school decisions for your children?
This report synthesizes the combined conversations of families in communities throughout the Denver city area. The report was requested by RootED, a local philanthropic organization involved in education in Denver.