Board of Education Update – March 1, 2018 Focus on Achievement

Supporting our Schools: Yellow School Performance

At the March 1, 2018 Focus on Achievement session the Board focused their conversation around how the district is supporting schools rated Yellow (Accredited on Watch) on the School Performance Framework (SPF). See the board presentation here.

One of the district’s Denver Plan 2020 goals is to have Great Schools in Every Neighborhood — for 80% of our students to attend a high-performing school, measured by region using the SPF. In 2017, approximately 51,000 of our 90,000 students attend a school rated Green (Meets Expectations) or Blue (Distinguished) and just under 25,000 attend a Yellow-rated school. Fewer than 9,000 students attend a school rated Orange (Accredited on Priority Watch) or Red (Accredited on Probation).

The meeting focused on the characteristics, performance trends and supports for our Yellow schools — those demonstrating results in some areas, but that still need improvement in several areas.


A detailed analysis of Yellow schools shows:

  • Over time, most Yellow schools either stay Yellow or move to Green.
  • Schools that improved (moved from Yellow to Green) over a 5-year period varied in student demographics and by region.
  • In almost all cases, schools that declined (moved from Yellow to Orange or Red) over a 5-year period had higher-than-average rates of students in poverty.


In DPS, we created the Tiered Support Framework to ensure the schools with the biggest challenges receive the most intensive support, while also helping all schools work toward continuous improvement. After the SPF comes out in the fall, schools are identified to receive support based on their needs: Universal, Strategic and Intensive tiers.

In 2017, the majority of Yellow schools are in the Universal tier, which means their supports are focused on continuous improvement, accelerating progress and moving from good to great. Certain Yellow schools received Strategic supports, which are focused on prevention and reversing a declining performance trajectory.

School leaders create improvement plans with support from their instructional superintendents, improvement planning partners and other experts. We also tailor our supports to the unique needs of each school to provide additional improvement planning support when applicable, to help a school with innovation planning and community-partnered school design.


The board presentation also shared how DPS is leveraging our innovation agenda to provide further supports to our schools. DPS’ Imaginarium is being reorganized to work collaboratively with the Tiered Support Framework team to create greater opportunities to target innovations toward areas of persistent challenge for our tiered and Yellow schools. This includes providing expertise on creating a culture of innovation, innovation processes and capacity-building.

Voices from the Field

The board heard from a panel of school leaders about their experiences with Yellow schools, what supports they need and find most valuable. The panel included Maxwell Elementary Principal Nivan Khosravi, Thomas Jefferson High School Principal Michael Christoff and Instructional Superintendent Suzanne Morris-Sherer.

You can read the full presentation to the board here.