New Research Shows Choice, Autonomy and Accountability Improved Outcomes for All Denver Students

Published: December 13, 2022

The University of Colorado Denver’s Center for Education Policy Analysis in the School of Public Affairs has released the findings of a new, first-of-its-kind report

The report, titled “The System-Level Effects of Denver’s Portfolio District Strategy,” has found that 11 years of education reform strategies in Denver Public Schools—which prioritized choice, autonomy and accountability—led to significant and meaningful improvements in academic proficiency and graduation rates for all students. 

According to the report, the district’s comprehensive strategy from 2008-2019:

  • Improved the four-year high school graduation rate by 14.6%; in the absence of the reforms, the report finds the district’s four-year graduation rate would have remained below 60%; 
  • Improved student learning district-wide, including for students of color, English language learners, students from low-income households, and students who receive special education services; and
  • Led to at least nine months and as much as 14 months of added learning for students.

Read a summary of the research findings, watch a discussion about the research, read Colorado Public Radio’s coverage of the report, or listen to the Fordham Institute’s Education Gadfly podcast with the study’s co-author, Parker Baxter.