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The 9 Worst Schools In Denver Today

City skyline of Denver Colorado downtown with snowy Rocky Mountains and the City Park Lake.

The 9 Worst Schools In Denver Today

While there may be challenges to raising a family in Denver, there are also numerous benefits like the beautiful mountains or the extensive list of museums and parks. If you have school-age children, the educational system is also something to consider. Whether you’re looking at elementary, middle, or high schools in the area, Colorado has one of the highest-rated educational systems in the country. Despite this high ranking, not every school in Colorado is highly rated. Some of the worst schools in Denver have students who are drastically falling behind their peers from other schools.

The Denver Public Schools District includes over 200 schools and about 90,000 students. Within this district, there are numerous schools where students are struggling. The Denver schools listed below are rated as some of the worst schools based on their test scores, academic progress, and graduation rates.

Keep reading to find out more about the worst schools in Denver and how they compare to other schools in the state.

thoughtful school boy struggling to finish test in class.
Overall low scores at a school can raise concerns about student learning outcomes.


Oakland Elementary

4580 Dearborn St, Denver, CO 80239

Oakland Elementary is a public school in Denver serving 277 students in grades PK-5. At this elementary school, they focus on teaching the whole child. They aim to help all students reach their full potential academically, no matter what their learning styles or unique abilities are.

Compared to other elementary schools in Denver, students at Oakland Elementary are falling behind. While students at this school are testing above the state average in Spanish Language Arts, they’re falling behind in subjects like math and English. At Oakland Elementary, only 9% of students are proficient in math and 12% of students are proficient in English.

Maxwell Elementary School

14390 East Bolling Drive, Denver, CO, 80239

Maxwell Elementary School is a public elementary in Denver that serves 651 students. One of the goals at Maxwell Elementary is to develop their students’ independence, critical thought, and love for learning. Their core values include integrity, perseverance, joy, kindness, and collaboration. 

While the staff at Maxwell Elementary School have strong core values, there are many students who fall below the state average when it comes to proficiency in core subjects. Spanish Language Arts is the strongest subject with 31% of students showing proficiency. However, only 14% of students are proficient in English and 8% of students are proficient in math.

McMeen Elementary School

1000 South Holly Street, Denver, CO, 80246

McMeen Elementary School is a public school in Denver with 555 students in grades PK-5. The staff at this school aims to create 21st-century thinkers within a safe learning environment. Additionally, their goal is to empower students to become culturally aware individuals and altruistic, compassionate citizens.

When it comes to test scores and academic progress, students at McMeen Elementary School are falling behind. Students are performing better in English than in math, but their proficiency in English still falls below the state average. Only 25% of students are proficient in English while 10% of students are proficient in math.

Mcglone Academy

4500 Crown Boulevard, Denver, CO, 80239

Mcglone Academy is a public school in Denver with a student population of 885. This public school serves students in grades K-8. The staff aims to help all students achieve excellence in both academics and the arts. It’s also part of their vision to empower all staff, students, and families to close opportunity gaps in the educational system.

While the number of students displaying proficiency in Spanish Language Arts is above the state average, many students are scoring low in math and English. Only 8% of students at Mcglone Academy are proficient in these important subjects. Students are also displaying low progress from year to year instead of catching up with their peers.

Vanguard Classical School

801 Yosemite St, Denver, CO 80230

Vanguard Classical School is a public charter school that serves 1,200 students in grades K-12. Students at Vanguard Classical School start with grammar school in K-4th grade before moving on to logic school in grades 5-8 and rhetoric school in grades 9-12. Additionally, the staff at Vanguard Classical School aims to prepare students to be virtuous citizens.

While one of the philosophies of Vanguard Classical School is offering a broad, rigorous curriculum, many students at this charter school are falling behind. While the state average for English proficiency is 43%, only 14% of students at Vanguard Classical School are proficient in English. Students struggle even more with math and only 5% of students are proficient in this subject.

Bear Valley International School

3005 S Golden Way, Denver, CO 80227

Bear Valley International School is a public school in Denver with 498 students. They serve students in grades 6-8 and aim to engage scholars with a curriculum and learning that is internationally minded and dynamic. As a diverse school community with an international perspective, all students are required to take Spanish as a core class.

Compared to other schools in the state, Bear Valley International School scores low when it comes to test scores, student progress, and equity. Only 20% of students are proficient in English and 14% of students are proficient in math. Students are also making less progress than the previous year, leading to students consistently falling behind.

High school student taking notes from book for her study. Young woman sitting at desk and finding information in college library. Focused girl studying in classroom completing assignment.
College readiness is an important factor when it comes to rating high schools and how they're preparing students for the future.

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Manual High School

1700 E 28th Ave, Denver, CO 80205

Manual High School in Denver, Colorado is a public school serving 313 students in grades 9-12. This public high school aims to empower students to reach their greatest potential and find their place in the world. They also aim to help students employ innovation and develop a mindset of achievement.

Despite these worthy goals, many of the students at Manuel High School are falling behind when it comes to academic progress and college readiness. While Manuel High School has a 75% graduation rate, this is still below the state average of 81%. 40% of students plan on pursuing a college degree after graduation while 21% plan on pursuing college or a vocational program. Additionally, only 18% of the students are proficient in English.

John F Kennedy High School

2855 South Lamar Street, Denver, CO, 80227

John F Kennedy High School is a public high school in Denver Public Schools with 908 students. Located in the Bear Valley neighborhood, this high school offers diverse course options for students and a wide range of clubs, athletic teams, and other extracurricular activities.

At this school, the staff aims to push students to become champions of change and experience a well-rounded education. Despite their diverse academic programs, students at John F Kennedy High School are falling behind specifically when it comes to college readiness. While the graduation rate at this high school is 79%, less than 5% of students participate in AP courses. 40% of students are pursuing a college education after high school, which is lower than the state average of 50%.

Community College of Denver

800 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80204

The Community College of Denver is a two-year college that serves about 10,000 students. At this community college, there are numerous learning options for students including remote real-time classes, hybrid classes, and in-person, on-campus classes. Students can also choose from a variety of different academic pathways and programs.

The Community College of Denver has an 11.6% graduation rate, which is the lowest graduation rate of any college in Colorado. While some students who attend community college transfer to four-year universities or other schools before graduating, the transfer rate for the Community College of Denver is only 14%.

Finding the Right Schools in Denver

While Colorado has a highly-rated educational system overall, this doesn’t mean every school in the state is successful. In Denver, there are numerous schools with students who are struggling in core subjects like math and English.

Some of the worst schools in Denver have students who are not only struggling with core subjects but are also making little academic progress from year to year. While this is concerning for students in Denver, with the right support and interventions, struggling students can increase their proficiency and prepare for a brighter future.

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