The Denver Public Schools have been rated as “accredited with improvement plan” by the state, up one level from the “accredited with priority improvement plan” rating that the district has held since the state accreditation system launched in 2010.

DPS officials announced the rating change during a Friday morning news conference. (Get comments in this district news release.)

Districts are required to develop and implement different kinds of improvement plans based on which of the five accreditation levels they fall in. State accountability law requires that if a district remains in priority improvement or turnaround (the two lowest levels) for five consecutive years, the Department of Education may revoke accreditation. After further review, the department can require reorganization of the district, bring in outside management, convert individual schools to charters or innovation schools, or close schools.

So, the change in Denver’s rating takes it out from under that provision of the law.

Annual accreditation is based on test scores, student academic growth over time, progress in narrowing growth gaps and the postsecondary and workforce readiness of high school students, as measured by such things as graduation rates. (Get more information here about the rating system, and see the EdNews story about last year’s ratings here.)

Districts were informed Aug. 16 of their most recent ratings, which are based on data from the 2012-13 school year. Districts have until mid-October to request reconsideration of ratings. All district and school ratings will be released in early December after the reconsideration process has closed. Individual districts are free to release their own ratings at any time, and districts that have moved up and don’t plan to appeal often do that, as DPS did.