Denver Public Schools (DPS) comprises 185 schools in the city of Denver, educating over 87,000 students annually through magnet, charter, pathways and of course, traditional school programs.
DPS is a diverse school district with students hailing from a variety of different backgrounds. While English and Spanish are the primary languages spoken, a large population of students speak a myriad of other languages, including Vietnamese and Somali, as well as many others.
While many of the schools in DPS do not receive high scores on the state’s standardized tests, a number of schools perform very well and are even labeled as “distinguished” by the state. Other ranking entities, like US News and World Report, which ranks secondary and college programs alike, have recognized a number of DPS schools.
The Denver School of Science and Technology
The Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) is an open-enrollment, STEM charter school, which has achieved high results. With 12 K-12 Schools in the Denver Metro Area, many of which are in some of Denver’s traditionally low performing neighborhoods, DSST focuses heavily on developing a community that is value centered. To date, all of DSST’s graduates have achieved admission to a 4 year college, and US News ranks DSST’s Stapleton High School as #5 in Colorado. The school continues to grow, and projects that by 2025 there will be 11 campuses. Because DSST is a charter school, any family can fill out a school choice form and participate in a lottery in January to enroll.
KIPP Denver Collegiate High School
KIPP Denver Collegiate High School is an open enrollment, college-prep charter school operating in the Denver area. This school strives to serve low-income students, and works under the philosophy that all students excel when they are held to high standards. KIPP students perform well on state tests, but studies show they have continual achievement gains as a result of their time at KIPP. US News recognizes KIPP with a gold level ranking, and places it as the 9th best high school in the state. Similar to DSST, anyone can enroll in KIPP through the School Choice program and by enrolling in a lottery.
Denver School of the Arts
Denver School of the Arts (DSA) is a magnet school serving students in grades 6-12 who are actively engaged and pursuing vocal music, creative writing, band, dance, orchestra, piano, guitar, theater, stagecraft and design, video cinema arts or visual arts. Though the school has a heavy focus on the arts, students are held to a high academic standard. US News ranks DSA as the 11th best school in the state with a gold medal award as well. Students interested in attending DSA must apply, complete an audition process and receive admission to matriculate.
Denver Center for International Studies
Denver Center for International Studies (DCIS) is a magnet school with K-12 programs in Denver. DCIS seeks to form students who represent the core values of the school, including integrity, high expectations, diversity, collaborative culture, and reflection, and the school attempts to cultivate students who are both multilingual and culturally competent. In addition to traditional curriculum, DCIS offers courses in international studies and in 6 world languages. Travel is an important component for the school, and students are encouraged to participate in school travel programs. DCIS performs well on tests, and US News recognizes DCIS as the 13th best high school in Colorado. To enroll, students must complete a visit and complete the school choice form to apply.
While Denver Public Schools also has a number of high-performing schools that have a traditional academic focus, many of the magnet and charter schools outshine DPS programs as well as other traditional K-12 schools across the state.