There is a rating system for schools in the Denver Public Schools system (including charter schools).
The top ranking "distinguished" goes to schools that manage to produce excellent academic performance without being meaningfully selective in admissions. This ranking was awarded to West Denver Prep at Highland, Lake, Federal and Harvey Park locations, and to the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) at Stapleton and Green Valley Ranch locations.
The vast majority of schools in the DPS system are rated either "meets expectations", a notch below distinguished, or "watch", a notch below that rating. These ratings are muddied, however, because a large share of all Denver schools have multiple programs. If a school has one program that is very good (either in student growth or student academic performance) and another that isn't, the average of the multiple programs becomes uninformative. Also many schools are near the boundary line between the two rankings. Schools that have high academic performance but achieve it through selectivity tend to end up in a "meets expectations" category, since they can't compete with the "distinguished" school for student growth. Schools that have satisfactory academic growth but medicore performance also tend to end up in one of these categories.
The two bottom ranking in the system are "priority watch" and below it, "probation."
But, at this end of the scale, the inclusion of academic performance as a factor in the ranking, apart from student growth, penalizes the schools that specializing in serving students who are selectived particularly for their poor academic performance or other challenges. Among schools specially designed to meet the needs of students with special challenges, the rankings are as follows:
* Meets Expectations: Emily Griffith, Ace Community Challenge School, and Denver Justice.
* Watch: Academy of Urban Learning, Contemporary Learning Academy, and Kepner.
* Priority Watch: P.R.E.P. Academy, Colorado High School Charter, and Florence Crittenton High School (pregnant students and teen parents).
* Probation: Life Skills of Denver.
Of greater concern are the schools not specifically targeted at poor performing students that do less well.
On priority watch are Escuela Tlatelolco (while this is not formally a school targeted at challenged students, it is designed to be especially friendly to Hispanic ESL students and this effect may help explain its poor performance), and Henry World School (which is trying to be a high performing, middle school level International Bachelorate program).
Three schools serving a general population of students are on probation: Noel Middle School (not to be confused with Noel Community Arts School), Venture Prep and West High School.
West High School is arguably the worst high school targeted at a general population of students in the entire State of Colorado and has hovered at the bottom of statewide academic standards for a long time. It doesn't have the lowest high school graduation rate in the district or the state, but its performance, given the group of students who start there, is dismal.