According to newly released statistics from the Colorado Department of Education, DPS has seen a 42 percent drop in its dropout rate in the last five years.
In the 2005-2006 school year, 11.1 percent of students left Denver High Schools before getting their degrees. In the 2009-2010 school year, that number dropped to 6.4 percent. That means 1,700 fewer students dropped out between these years.
In middle schools across the district, the decline was even more significant. In the past five years the number of middle school students who have dropped out has decreased by 80 percent.
According to the Colorado Department of Education, kids are not just staying in school, they are finishing school.
Another area of growth for the district was the on-time graduation rate. According to the Colorado Department of Education report, DPS saw a 5.4 percent increase in the number of students who graduated on time from the 2008-2009 school year to the 2009-2010 school year.
DPS credits a strategy it has developed over the past few years to offer students a choice and re-engage those who have lost interest in school.
Last fall, the district opened its first Multiple Pathways Center, Summit Academy, the first of its kind in what DPS hopes will be a growing program.
Multiple Pathways Centers offer smaller classes, more personal attention and creative teaching methods to get students who have had trouble in other high schools get back on track.
On Tuesday, Superintendent Tom Boasberg met with Summit Academy officials and students to hear some of the success stories, including 19-year-old high school senior Adrian Sandoval.
"I was getting involved with the wrong crowd, got lost in the gangs and wasn't really focused on school. All the teachers here bought into me, bought into my situation and understood my situation," Sandoval said.
Now, Sandoval plans to go to college to pursue a law degree.
One of his peers, Andrew McKenzi went from dropping out to planning to pursue a career in sports medicine.
"Coming here has just really opened my eyes to see that I really could graduate and school's really not that hard if you stick to it," McKenzi said.
DPS plans to open two more Multiple Pathway Centers this fall.
In addition to alternative high schools, DPS credits its engagement centers with helping to decrease the dropout rate. The community centers, located across the metro area, offer resources for students who have dropped out of school to help them re-enroll or to pursue a GED.
DPS says although it is happy to see growth, it still has a long way to go to make sure that students are graduating with the tools they need to have a successful college experience and career.
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)