Manual High School Jumps Two Performance Levels on DPS School Performance Framework

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Largest gain of any DPS Traditional High School for 2015-2016 school year.

Friends of Manual, the non-profit group that supports Manual High School, announced today that Manual High School jumped two performance levels on the School Performance Framework (SPF), Denver Public Schools’ rating system. SPF ratings show how schools are performing in several key areas, such as academic performance, academic growth, enrollment numbers, post-secondary readiness, and parent and student engagement and satisfaction.

Since the 2012-13 SPF, Manual has scored in the red band, the lowest of the five bands. Because of the dedication of educators and the students’ desire to learn, for the 2015-16 school year, Manual High School’s combined SPF results placed it in the yellow, or middle band, on the five-color scale. Manual was the only traditional Denver Public Schools high school to show such a marked performance increase in this year’s results. DPS uses these scores to guide decision making about financial and staff allocations. The scores also factor into decisions regarding school closings.

“This performance jump is significant for several major reasons,” explained Principal Nickolas Dawkins, who began leading the school in the 2015-16 school year. “First, it means that Manual High School is no longer in danger of closing – wonderful news for our students and community. It is also a validation of more than a year’s worth of exceedingly hard work on the part of Manual’s students, faculty and school leadership team.”

Manual also scored “green,” the second highest level, for the equity category, which assesses how a school is serving its students regardless of background, ethnicity, or ability. “This high mark is an indication that the diverse student population at the school is showing academic growth,” said Ed Salem, school senior data assessment partner.

“We believe Manual students are capable of achieving at the highest levels. Our instructional focus is relentlessly targeted on literacy and thinking about complex text and planning with college readiness standards,” said Assistant Principal Colleen O’Brien. “Starting with the first day of school, we challenge our students with real-world problems, while simultaneously supporting and nurturing them.”

Highlights of the 2015-16 school year which contributed to the school’s performance growth included:

  • The Med School at Manual, created in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, provides specialized courses for students interested in the medical profession. Students gain hands-on experiences as well as academic study, mentorships and coaching. They also have the opportunity to take extra courses to obtain professional certifications and associates degrees.
  • The availability of a Chromebook tablets for every Manual High School student offers a unique “license to drive” training program. Additionally, many Manual classrooms received enhancements in technology.
  • The creation of a college readiness team helps students understand course options, prepare for testing, and complete college applications. Manual also implemented daily tutoring and a reading mentoring program which are available to every student.
  • A school-wide effort to rebrand and enhance the narrative at the Manual campus has drastically increased the opportunities students have to engage in various aspects of the high school experience. Also, the new middle school co-location, approved during the 2015-16 school-year and already in progress at the Smiley campus, will help bolster the high school’s enrollment while making use of the school’s excellent facilities.

“While we are certainly proud of last year’s achievements and successes, we’re not taking our eye off the ball,” emphasized Dawkins. “There’s still much more to be done. For instance, we want to see more students at grade level, we want to see our enrollment grow, and we want to see more students being accepted to four-year colleges. But, for now, we’re grateful to be celebrating.”

For more information on Manual High School, visit the school’s website at or like its Facebook page.

About Manual High School

Located in the heart of Denver’s Whittier neighborhood, Manual High School’s highly trained teachers are committed to challenging, nurturing, and supporting all students. The school’s achievement-focused culture cultivates goal setting, resiliency, and critical thinking.

Manual High School was one of the first schools in Denver to educate women and African Americans. Noteworthy graduates include Mayor Michael Hancock, Mayor Wellington Webb, and activist and poet Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales.

Today, Manual is at the forefront of career and technical education with the launch of the Med School at Manual, one of the district’s first biomedical pathways for high school students. As one of the first schools in the district to be granted Innovation status, Manual’s classrooms are continually personalized and equipped with modern tools and technology. Just as importantly, each Manual student has the use of a dedicated tablet during the school day to ensure the development of the technology skills needed for today’s workplace.

To find out more about enrolling at Manual High School, visit or

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Linda Galloway
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