Denver Public Schools releases La Raza Report outlining Latino students' experiences

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Posted at 5:40 PM, Mar 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-20 12:31:19-04

DENVER – Denver Public Schools held a news conference on Tuesday to discuss the recently published findings of La Raza Report, an examination of the experiences of Latino students over several decades.

The report, which included historical analysis as well as qualitative and quantitative data collection was conducted by The Multicultural Leadership Center.

“The district finds itself with options for dealing with the past problems and the current challenges in serving our Latinx population,” said DPS Board of Education President Dr. Carrie A. Olson.

Olson said this week marks 55 years since students marched out of Denver West High School to protest racist Denver Public Schools policies against Latino students, like banning students from speaking Spanish. Dr. Steve Delcastillo, who helped lead the research, said decades of policies and legislation give context to current conditions for Latino students.

“You look at the 1920s, for example, when the Ku Klux Klan was here in Denver essentially kind of terrorizing the streets; the 1930s when we had the redlining that was authorized by the federal government, and quite frankly, by entitled persons in the title mortgage companies. And you'll see when you read the report, the links that tie that to direct documents and the language that was used to discriminate,” Delcastillo said.

Delcastillo explained quantitative data collection analyzed disparities in academic achievement.

“In general, what we saw as a trend is that the Hispanic students generally across the district performed about one standard deviation lower than their white counterparts, which just roughly translates to about 34% on their math state annual test scores as well as the ELA reading scores,” said Alex Hague, a data scientist and member of the Multicultural Leadership Center La Raza Report team.

Qualitative data collection included a survey and focus groups where students shared concerns about bullying, culturally responsive curriculum and unequal resources across schools.

“The qualitative piece that really consumed about 60% of the report, we had 51 focus groups, over 600 folks in focus groups, and got a rich amount of material. We learned a lot,” Delcastillo said. “One of the things that we found is that especially with the immigrant families, they were very positive about the experience in DPS. They felt like, yes, we have a chance to have some input.”

The report issued 35 recommendations, including creating a Latino Students Initiative to close achievement and equity gaps and coordinating with nonprofits and the City of Denver to provide wrap-around services for immigrant families.

Delcastillo said the report did not fully capture the influx of new immigrants to Denver because data collection ended in early fall 2023.

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