No school system ever seems to have enough money, but Colorado's schools are especially underfunded. This was most poignantly driven home when a lawsuit recently concluded Colorado's education funding is "irrational and inadequate." So inadequate (by "unconscionable billions," said the judge) as to be considered unconstitutional.
In the midst of a perennial shortage of cash, schools have struggled to avoid penalties under the No Child Left Behind Act. Standardized tests intended to measure students' progress instead penalize schools with a funding cut if academic growth isn't large enough. Schools with already disadvantaged populations -- high poverty rates, students learning English as a second language, etc. -- are prone to struggle more than their affluent peers.
However, Denver's Beach Court Elementary is not one of these schools. While a recent 9News report points out that 96 percent of the school's students receive free or reduced lunch and most speak primarily Spanish, Beach Court continually ranks at the top of the state for academic growth.
Colorado Department of Education (CDE) reports from 2010 and 2011 awarded the school a perfect score in 5 out of 6 categories, including overall academic growth, and improvement in reading, mathematics, and writing. The school earned a "meets" rating in academic achievement both years.
According to ColoradoSchoolGrades.com, a website comprised of Colorado organizations that rate schools, Beach Court earned an "A+" for overall performance in 2010, and an "A" in 2011. That performance placed the school 25th out of Colorado's 1,447 elementary and middle schools in 2010.
"We're not supposed to get those scores," said Juan Osario, a third-grade teacher at Beach Court, to 9News. School principal Frank Roti added, "You know, when I hear people say you look on paper and you see the demographics, and folks say this is not supposed to happen, my first question is 'Well, why not? Why can't it happen? It can happen in every school.'"