Des Moines Public Schools serves over 30,000 students from a diverse backgrounds. Our students have multiple countries of birth spanning over 80 nations, and with over 100 languages and dialects spoken. We believe that diversity strengthens us. DMPS expects every student to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. However, the opportunity gaps, which often result in achievement gaps, for several student populations persist.   

While many factors contribute to disproportionate outcomes, we simply cannot regard these outcomes as outside our locus of control. To serve all students, we must intentionally focus on student populations experiencing the biggest disparities in opportunity and outcomes.During the 2018-2019 school year, the Des Moines School Board facilitated public sessions that engaged parents, community members/partners, district staff, and students to collect information around two critical questions: 

  • What is the impact you want our school system to make on our students? 
  • What do you want students to know and be able to do? 

Participants were then asked to list three student outcomes representative of their answers, which were collected, categorized and prioritized. 

The information gathered from those sessions, as well as a host of district data, was collaboratively reviewed and analyzed by the Board, the Superintendent and district staff.  While our data revealed black males have the lowest rates of achievement in the district. It doesn’t mean that black males are low achievers, but that our system’s performance in creating success for black males is critically low and it needs to be named and addressed. It recognizes the need for change within the system to evolve into one that does not continue to marginalize various student populations — doing things the same way and expecting different results has proven to be ineffective.

As a result of this on-going process, the Board has established three goals, along with five guardrails for the Superintendent in supporting these goals and the work of the school district. These goals and guardrails are regularly monitored by the Board and adjusted, as needed, to best meet the needs of our students.   


  • Goal 1: The Percent of All Fourth Grade Students Proficient on the ISASP ELA Assessment Will Increase From 52.7% in June 2022 to 67% in June 2026.  
  • Goal 2: The Percent of Black Male Fourth Grade Students Proficient on the ISASP ELA Assessment Will Increase From 29.5% in June 2022 to 67% in June 2026.  
  • Goal 3: The Percent of Black Male Eleventh Grade Students Proficient on the ISASP Mathematics Assessment Will Increase From 17.7% in June 2022 to 45% in June 2026. 


  1. The Superintendent shall not allow inequitable treatment of students or the continuation of systems that allow for it.  
  2. The Superintendent shall not allow the social emotional learning needs of marginalized students to be unaddressed. 
  3. The Superintendent shall not allow the composition of the teaching and learning staff to diverge regarding demographics and cultural responsivity, from the student population while utilizing hiring practices conducted in accordance with the District’s Affirmative Action Plan and Equal Employment Opportunity/Non-Discrimination Process 
  4. The Superintendent shall not allow an environment for both students and staff that is unsafe and unwelcome. 
  5. The Superintendent shall not cause or allow any practice, activity, decision, or organizational circumstance that is financially imprudent, unnecessarily risks district assets, or violates commonly accepted business and professional practices.