How Manual High School Is Faring Five Years into Reform

May 16 2011, 8:30 AM

Denver's Manual High School has been a source of contention among Denver educators—and politicians—for many years. Five years after the school was shuttered, then reopened, due to strikingly low test scores and a shocking dropout rate, the Denver Post checks in on Manual's attempts at reform and finds mixed results: While the campus' academic profile has improved, bureaucracy threatens its leadership and momentum. Although the dropout rate has decreased by 12 percent, reading results are flat and math proficiencies remain troublesome.

In the case of Rob Stein, who took the reins as Manual's principal when he was appointed in 2007 by then-Superintendent Michael Bennet, the obstacles of the Denver Public Schools administration became too much to bear last year. Despite it all, some see hope in Manual's incoming principal, Brian Dale, and are encouraged by gains in college acceptance rates: Of the school's first class to enter as freshmen post-reform, 89 percent have been accepted to college.

Meanwhile, DPS appears to have lost its luster as a campaign issue in the race for Denver mayor. Prior to the candidates being whittled down to two for the June 7 runoff, education reform in the district was "in many ways the only litmus test being used," writes the Spot, noting that Chris Romer and Michael Hancock "are mostly aligned on the issues facing DPS."