T+L Conference 2009 – Day 5

Denver School of Science and technology

Join us as we visit one of the leading S.T.E.M. programs in the country and learn about its one-to-one laptop program at the same time. The Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) is a free, open-enrollment public school serving middle and high school students. DSST integrates technology into every aspect of the school — which has led to some of the best student achieve- ment results in Colorado. DSST’s approach is predicated on a standards-based pedagogy and values-based school culture deliv- ered in a college preparatory liberal arts program with a science and technology focus. DSST is the only “Distinguished” rated high school in Denver, and 100 percent of its graduates have been accepted into four year colleges.

What a school!  What an experience!

The Denver School of Science and Technology is indeed a charter school.  But, its population is 40% hispanic, 40% african american and 20% the rest.  Their students apply via lottery – there is no picking and choosing here – their goal is to make everyone graduate and be placed in college.

And they’re doing it.

In their history, just a few years mind, they have a 100% placement rate.

How do they do it?  Massive, targeted literacy intervention.  Kids come in there several levels behind in their reading ability.  Teachers take them and work with them – intensive work – and they bring them up to speed.

Obviously we have a school that has additional resources and additional control, in that it is a charter school.  But the point is – they take kids who would probably be failing, and the end up placing them in college.  ALL of them.

So – it can be done.

Another thing I took from this school was their behavioural expectations.  VERY clearly written.  And signed by students and parents – in plain view in the lobby of the school.  They are expected to behave.  They are expected to learn, and do well.

And they do.

The building the school has built is quite something too – social “pod” like areas in different areas – all with shelving and plugs to charge their laptops between periods and at lunch.

I couldn’t have asked for a better cap to end this conference – seeing this school and seeing what they are accomplishing raises the bar.  Raises the expectations.  There’s no reason why we cannot do the same.

Truly,

Steve

Check out the school for yourself by clicking here.

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