Another day, another report on the dismal academic achievement of Denver Public Schools students.
Denver high school freshmen took standardized final exams in a variety of subject this year, based upon state curriculum requirements. It appears that most students took one of two English classes and one of five math classes. There were also standardized final exams in science and geography. Across the board, the results were awful. The percentage failing the final exam (and the number of students taking each test) appear below (following in brackets by the percentage getting Ds or Fs):
Introduction To Literature and Composition (3615) 34% [54%]
American Literature (3338) 41% [66%]
Algebra II (1656) 67% [81%]
Geometry (2722) 47% [71%]
Algebra I (2730) 68% [85%]
Interactive Math Program 2 (229) 52% [67%]
Interactive Math Program 1 (469) 58% [75%]
Science and Social Studies
Biology (2722) 56% [78%]
Earth Science (2933) 69% [87%]
Geography (2842) 31% [71%]
The plurality grade in every English, math and science subject was F. In geography, the plurality grade was a D.
Kids were flunking their final exams, which unlike CSAPs they have an incentive to perform upon because they count towards the final grade in the class, at high rates at every level, despite the fact that, for example, high school freshmen in Algebra II should presumably be better at math than high school freshmen in Algebra I. Yet, more than two-thirds of DPS freshmen in each class flunked their final exam.
While it is possible that the exams are simply ill crafted, and they are certainly not perfect, the results largely coroborate the CSAP and ACT results from the district.
The numbers suggest some combination of two factors. One, students are being placed in classes that are grossly beyond their abilities, and hence are set up to fail. The other, is that students simply do not care across the board, even if they are able to perform.
A properly placed student who makes even a modicum of good faith effort ought to be able to score at least a C or D on a final exam.
The percentage of students scoring an A or B on the final exam, which suggests that they actually "get it" is tragically small as well. The percentage varied from 3% to 12% of students taking each exam, depending upon the class.
The Denver Public Schools may be teaching 7,000+ freshmen, but fewer than 1,000 of them are getting much out of it.