By the numbers

Colorado immunization exemption rates in six graphs

Kara Robinson, 11, received an immunization shot from Aurora fireman Sean Dolan at the Shots for Tots immunization clinic in 2011.

Earlier today we published a first-of-its-kind database of immunization compliance and exemption rates for schools in Colorado’s 20 largest school districts.

Compliance rates show the percentage of students who are fully immunized, have valid exemption forms, or are “in process” of getting updated on their immunizations. Compliance rates help show how hard schools are working to collect immunization and exemption paperwork and ensure that students comply with state law.

It’s worth noting that a 100 percent compliance rate does not necessarily mean all students are fully immunized. Instead, it can mean that the school has done a good job ensuring all students have turned in the required documents, even if those documents happen to include many exemption forms excusing students from immunizations.

Chalkbeat reporters and editors have been combing the data throughout the day to look for trends. Here’s what we’ve found so far.

1. Two expeditionary learning schools and a Montessori school had the highest exemption rates in Denver.

The Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning elementary, middle, and high school accounted for three of the five highest rates of exemption among schools located in Denver. The school’s students are drawn from five districts: Denver, Cherry Creek, Aurora, Littleton, and Douglas County. The Odyssey School, a Denver expeditionary learning charter, and the Denver Public Montessori Middle School rounded out the top five.

2. The smallest schools in Boulder have the highest exemption rates.

Two of the five schools with the highest exemption rates in Boulder have fewer than 30 students. Gold Hill Elementary has 27 students while Jamestown Elementary has 20.

3. Charters and choice schools lead in exemption rates in Jeffco.

Public health observers say there is often a higher concentration of exemptions in charter schools than traditionally district-run schools. This is true in Jeffco: Three of the five schools with the highest exemption rates are charter schools. But interestingly, the other two are district-run choice schools.

4. The schools with highest exemption rates in Grand Junction are more affluent than district average.

About four in 10 Grand Junction students qualify for either federally discounted meals. However, at the schools with the highest exemption rates, there are far fewer low-income students. In fact, not a single student qualifies for free or reduced-priced lunch at Mesa Valley Community School, which has a 23 percent exemption rate.

5. Few schools in the Greeley-Evans school district have high exemption rates.

Only two of the district’s 39 schools have exemption rates higher than 10 percent. In fact, most have fewer than five percent exempt. And six schools have fewer than one percent of students exempt.

6. Boulder schools also lead the state in low compliance.

Four of the five schools with the lowest compliance rate — which include the percentage of students who have gotten all required immunizations, have signed exemption forms, or are “in process” of getting up to date on their immunizations — are found in Boulder. The fifth is run by Littleton Public Schools.


¿Cuantos niños en su escuela son inmunizados?

Monserrat Cholico, 8, en la Crawford Kids Clinic en Aurora en 2015 (Denver Post).

Chalkbeat recolectó datos para ayudar a los padres a entender si las escuelas de sus hijos están protegidos de enfermedades. Busque su escuela en nuestra base de datos.

“Immunization rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes que están totalmente inmunizados.

“Exemption rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes cuyos padres optaron por no vacunar a sus hijos.

“Compliance rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes que están siguiendo la ley de Colorado. La ley dice que los estudiantes deben obtener vacunas o firmar formularios de exención.

Choosing college

State’s college attendance rate shows slight turnaround

PHOTO: Oliver Morrison

The percentage of Colorado high school students enrolling in college right after graduation increased slightly in 2014, according to a new report from the Department of Higher Education.

Of 2014’s 53,771 graduates, 55.8 percent went on to college immediately, up from the 2013 rate but three percentage points below the record in 2009, according to the Report on the Postsecondary Progress and Success of High School Graduates (full copy at bottom of this article).

In the recession year of 2009, when the state started compiling the report, 58.8 percent of high school grads went to college.

“The most recent, 2014, is the first cohort whose enrollment rate increased from the previous year,” the report noted. “Previously, all graduating classes included in this report had a lower enrollment rate than their previous year.”

The report “is good news because so many of the jobs in our technology and information based economy require post-secondary credentials,” said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who’s also executive director of the department. “However, the report also reveals that we have continuing and significant gaps in post-secondary outcomes and that students from certain demographic groups are doing much better than others. If we are to meet our education and workforce goals, we must do a better job of supporting low income, rural, and minority students so that they graduate with a credential that will lead to a living wage job.”

Overall college enrollment tends to rise when the economy is weak and drop when times improve. Fall enrollment in 2014 was 251,778, down from the recent high of 284,405 in 2011.

The report details continuing disparities between demographic groups in college attendance and success. Postsecondary enrollment for Latino students is nearly 20 percentage points below white students, and, after their first year of college, African-American students on average earn nearly 10 fewer credits than white students, it said.

“As Colorado’s demographics continue to change and labor markets increasingly demand quality postsecondary credentials, ensuring the state’s future economic prosperity requires that these educational gaps be highlighted and strategically addressed,” the report said.

The report also breaks out college-going rates for individual districts. The district with the highest college attendance rate was Limon, with 84.4 percent of its 32 2014 graduates going on to higher education.

Larger districts in the top 10 included Cheyenne Mountain, Douglas County, Lewis-Palmer and Littleton.

The Plateau Valley district in eastern Mesa County had the lowest rate, 16 percent. Metro-area districts in the bottom 10 included Adams 14, Englewood, Sheridan and Westminster.

Some 76 percent of 2014 grads attended Colorado colleges, and 74 percent of those students attended four-year schools. The most popular schools were Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Boulder. Front Range Community College attracted the largest number of students enrolling in two-year schools.

The annual study examines not only college-going rates but also grade point averages, credits earned, persistence and graduation rates going back to the class of 2009.

Members of the high school class of 2014 who attended Colorado colleges had an average grade point average of 2.78 during their freshman year. Those students completed an average of 30 credits by the end of 2014-15.

Search for your district’s college-going rates here:

And read the Department of Higher Education’s report here: