Reinvestment and Support of Skinner Middle School
Skinner Middle School and parents throughout Northwest Denver share the following vision for the future: a strong, integrated, socioeconomically diverse neighborhood middle school that provides core academics and support courses for kids in grades 6-8. A school with teachers and staff that have professional development support and expertise to serve all students from below grade level to the highest achievers emerging from northwest Denver elementary schools. We want Skinner to offer additional enhancement courses (language, music, arts), honors courses and materials to increase the school’s competitiveness and ability to retain students who leave the quadrant. This vision builds upon many attributes already in place at Skinner Middle School.
- Curriculum, teachers and materials that provide continuity at a student's current academic level
- The materials and opportunity for in-depth and accelerated-pace courses and study
- Dedicated accelerated classes in Language Arts, Reading and Math, at all three grade levels
- Advanced options for science and social studies
- Algebra I (or higher levels of math) accessible to all eighth grade students. Algebra preparing them for success in the Algebra I exit exam.
- Foreign language offerings, beginning and advanced
- Preparation for advanced classes in high school (e.g., AP, IB)
- Continuity in Music (choir and instrumental) and Drama
- Administrative and staff support for the accelerated classes
- Regular attendance
- Motivation to learn material in depth and at an accelerated pace when applicable
- Academic growth that surpasses grade level expectations
- Positive classroom behavior
- Goal setting and achievement
- School spirit and respect for one another
- Participation in sports, in the community or activities
- Awareness of college and/or post-graduate opportunities
- An HGT program that creates separate strands of students.
- A program that limits admission and unnecessarily compartmentalizes learning.
- A program that requires excessively long school days or a lengthy calendar year with summer school.
- A reform approach that ignores the needs of NW Denver students leaving the quadrant.
The following Reinvestment Strategy and Goals Skinner Principal and Assistant Principal and will guide reinvestment in Skinner Middle School adding momentum to the academic improvements achieved in the last three years. Support from DPS administration will be needed from the School Board, the Superintendent of Schools, the Chief Academic Officer, Principals from feeder schools, and Parents.
For three "bridge" years (beginning Fall 2010), as enrollment grows and brings in attendant dollars to achieve the vision for Skinner, Parents and Petition Advocates are asking DPS to provide the following to Skinner Middle School:
- Funding for extra staff
- A DPS honors or accelerated curriculum coordinator, who would help Skinner staff in the following ways:
- Work to understand the academic level of incoming NW high-achieving elementary kids:Arrangements would be made for Skinner staff to learn about the level at which kids at area elementary schools are working. This could include speaking with teachers from the feeder elementary schools, reviewing test scores or other work products, and visiting some 4th and 5th grade classes at Edison, Sandoval, Beach Court, Brown, Valdez and Columbian to see the kids in action.
- Work to provide a level of honors offerings consistent with those in other quadrants:Within the programs that many of our neighborhood kids are currently attending (which include Morey High Strides, Morey HGT, Hill Honors, DCIS, and DSA) there is a set of expectations and beliefs (and supplies, such as an extensive supply of high-reading-level books) that are not currently offered at Skinner. With a DPS investment, Skinner would have the resources to understand levels at feeder schools and other middle schools with more advanced offerings, to be able to provide an honors approach with definitive strategies for advanced students, and to credibly market such an approach.
- Develop dedicated 6th grade honors offerings:Extend honors (or accelerated) offerings to the 6th grade, not just 7th and 8th, as currently offered.
- Ensure honors classes in 7th and 8th grade can meet the needs of the highest achieving or accelerated kids.
- A Spanish teacher, who can teach both beginning Spanish and, for native Spanish speakers and bilingual students, provide challenging reading, writing and cultural lessons.
- A music teacher to provide continuation of choir and instrumental music that has begun at local elementary schools. iv.Enough extra FTE teachers to support dedicated honors classes in 6th grade, regardless of enrollment. That is, if there are only 15 honors-level kids, let the class be as small as needed to be taught at a truly accelerated pace. We believe the lack of honors courses in the 6th grade deters many families.
- Math - Algebra I (or higher levels of math) accessible to all eighth grade students preparing them for success in the Algebra I exit exam.
- Maintain and provide intervention support for students who arrive or fall below grade level in proficiency.
- Provide professional development to demonstrate to staff how advanced learners can be appropriately challenged in heterogeneously grouped social studies and science classes, and further challenged in honors math and language arts classes.
- Provide the school with some assistance (funding, part-time staff) in marketing honors courses and how an integrated core with honors curriculum will create a diverse and integrated learning environment that serves and benefits existing students as well as incoming ones.
- Appoint an implementation committee of Skinner teachers and administrators, prospective parents, current Skinner parents, and administrators from other high-level honors or advanced programs in the district, and charge the committee to do the following:
- Meeting monthly through Skinner's CSC process
- Review the proposed curriculum changes to ensure that it meets the set standards
- Assess implementation of the reinvestment effort
- Provide input and oversight to the Skinner Marketing Strategy and efforts
- During the three year Skinner Reinvestment period, ensure Skinner's enrollment is NOT further reduced by doing the following:
- Adding new programs that create a net increase of seats in the quadrant. Particularly if there is not a correlating reduction in seats, proven need or demand (within the quadrant) to fill the added seats. Additional middle school seats have been added to the NW quadrant each year since 2003 creating a drain on Skinner's enrollment that dropped from 650 students in 2004 to 330 in 2009. All within 1.25 miles of Skinner, 612 middle school seats have been added between 2003-2009: in 2003 Centennial added grades 6-8 (180 seats), in 2004 Bryant Webster (154 seats) and DATA were added as K-8s, in 2007 Sandoval added 6th grade (28 seats), in 2008 Valdez added 6th and 7th (100 seats) and then in 2009 Cesar Chavez came in as a K-8 (150 seats).
- Do not locate seats from new or existing programs within the Skinner facility. Adding seats amidst the Skinner revitalization creates instability for the school, and this instability deters parents and limits capacity building.
- Sign the petition and encourage DPS Administration and the School Board to support the Skinner Revitalization and to not add additional middle schools seats in or adjacent to the Skinner boundary.
- Visit the Skinner website and school—and consider sending your kids there for middle school.
- Support and attend Skinner events and fundraisers.
- Identify your children's needs for middle school and contact Skinner administrative staff if you feel your children’s need are not met by what is currently being offered at Skinner.
- Volunteer for the Skinner Reinvestment implementation committee or various Skinner volunteer opportunities.
The Reinvestment and Support of Skinner Middle School petition to Denver Public Schools was written by Northwest Neighborhood Middle Schools Now and is in the category Education at GoPetition.