Progress Toward Achieving Great Schools in Every Neighborhood


At the November 3 Focus on Achievement session, the Denver Board of Education heard how DPS is working toward our Denver Plan 2020 goal of Great Schools in Every Neighborhood by checking progress and supporting schools. The presentation included an overview of the district’s performance on the 2016 School Performance Framework (SPF). With the introduction of more rigorous, college readiness-aligned state standards, this year’s SPF saw 59% of schools receiving the same or higher ratings as the last SPF two years ago in 2014, while 41% of schools earned a lower rating.
The presentation also included updated information about DPS’ Tiered Support Framework, the system used by the district to prioritize support to schools with the highest needs. Importantly, schools receiving the most intensive supports showed greater learning gains than other Denver schools over the last year, with the majority of the tiered support schools earning higher ratings than previously.
Fairview Elementary School Principal Antoinette Hudson said that having tiered support was important in her school’s ability to improve their SPF rating from red to green this year. “We worked to build teacher capacity, strong systems and a school culture that is centered around Students First. That required leadership being involved in instruction, planning with teachers and supporting them with observations, and a lot of work analyzing student data.” She specifically called out Teacher Leadership & Collaboration, Family and Community Engagement, and additional mental health supports as having contributed to their success.
Under the DPS Tiered Support Framework, all DPS schools receive the Universal level of support tailored for the school’s needs. Supports across all schools focus on developing and supporting our teachers, teacher leaders and school leaders, providing whole child supports for our students, and strengthening academic resources.
Schools in the Strategic tier build on that foundation with specific approaches designed to help them meet their improvement plan goals. In the Intensive tier, the highest-needs schools are given an additional layer of support and resources to help them make the dramatic changes their students need to succeed.
The board heard the findings of both national and DPS-based research studies on how to sustain the successes of and improve the tiered support strategy. Based on the idea of the school as the unit of change, the board discussed how each school’s strategic improvement plan could drive the types of support it receives and how district supports could be structured to better serve the highest-needs schools.
“When we are talking about the supports we are providing to our intensive-tiered schools, it’s what you need to provide to keep a school healthy and sustainable,” said Board President Anne Rowe. “I think we need to think deeply about the cliff effect that happens when those supports are removed and the sustainability of those improvements.”
“We believe strongly in prioritizing resources for our highest needs schools,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “Our intensive supports are to get the fly wheel spinning for these schools so they can continue that momentum they didn’t have before.”
After hearing from multiple school leaders about their experience with tiered supports, Boasberg thanked them for the extraordinary work they are doing. “The moral purpose that each of you bring to your work, the way it animates you and the way you convey that is commendable and making all the difference for our kids. Thank you.”
View the full presentation here. To learn more about how DPS is working toward our goal of Great Schools in Every Neighborhood, visit To learn more about how DPS supports schools, visit