Des Moines Public Schools serves over 30,000 students from a diverse set of 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 these 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 a number of 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. 

All 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.  In addition, 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, the three priority areas that were determined will be analyzed through the focus lens of black male achievement.   

As a result, the Board’s community engagement efforts produced specific, measurable, time-targeted goals around these priority areas.  


  • Goal 1: The percent of all third grade students on track in reading will increase from 52% in June 2019 to 72% by June 2024, as measured by FAST. (view our progress towards this goal)
  • Goal 2: The percent of black male third grade students on track in reading will increase from 35% in June 2019 to 72% by June 2023, as measured by FAST. (view our progress towards this goal)



  1. The Superintendent shall not allow the continuation of systemic racism or inequitable treatment of students.
  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.
  4. The Superintendent shall not allow an environment for both students and staff that is unsafe and unwelcome.


Much of the work of the district over the next few years will focus on meeting these goals, and DMPS staff will report to the Board on progress towards meeting each of these goals three to four times per year.

Our action plan to reach these goals can be found online, please click here. Current action plan updates by area are listed below: