In most American cities, factors like family income, race and geography seem inextricably linked to academic performance. But in Denver, as elsewhere, there are outliers – powerful examples of what children from all backgrounds are capable of achieving. These examples do not negate the harsh and inequitable reality facing parents and school districts – but they do provide an essential countervailing force to the negative narrative that neither the schools nor the students in high poverty, African-American and Hispanic can achieve.
University Prep, a free public charter elementary school is one of these examples. The school serves a diverse neighborhood and its enrollment reflects that diversity: 47% of students are Hispanic, 38% African American, 8% Caucasian, 2% Asian American, 1% Native American. University Prep’s 3rd grade scholars (the term they use instead of students) outperform their peers from the rest of the neighborhood as well as Denver students as a whole. University Prep’s scholars score 23 points higher than their neighborhood peers on reading and 6 points higher than students from across the city. Math scores reveal an even greater disparity, with scholars scoring 28 points higher than local peers, and 14 points higher than Denver students as a whole. The school’s focus is “educat[ing] every K-5 scholar for college.”
Interested in understanding how University Prep has been able to help its scholars achieve such results, we interviewed David Singer, University Prep’s Founder and Head of School. The article will appear in the Summer issue of the National Civic Review.