Colorado immunization exemption rates in six graphs

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.