Denver Public Schools

Denver Public Schools

As the host city and district for this conference , Denver has a legacy of improving student outcomes through collaboration between the Denver Public Schools (DPS) and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA). Their work dates back over a decade to a pilot project in reforming teacher compensation, resulting in the adoption of the Professional Compensation System (ProComp) for teachers, which replaced a single salary schedule with a system of incentives for specific accomplishments. ProComp includes incentives to reward student growth, working in hard-to-serve schools and hard-to-staff assignments, acquiring and demonstrating skills and knowledge, and earning advanced degrees.

DPS and DCTA continue to build on their partnership as they revise their teacher coaching and evaluation systems to provide better and more concrete feedback to teachers and align with other performance management initiatives. Their work will be supported through a recent $10 million grant from the Gates Foundation. In speaking about the goal of this work, Superintendent Tom Boasberg remarked, "Having effective teachers in every classroom is the most important factor in dramatically improving student achievement." The Gates grant will support the work of the district and the union in four areas:

  • A shared, research-driven definition of effective teaching;
  • Development of a comprehensive teacher performance assessment tool, incorporating multiple measures of effectiveness;
  • Targeted professional development tied to information contained in the comprehensive teacher assessment tool;
  • The review and alignment of current teacher salary policies.

DCTA President Henry Roman said of the work supported by the grant, "DCTA is involved in this project because we are the teachers on the front lines of education in Denver, and we believe that no lasting improvements can be made without involving the classroom professionals that educate Denver's students every school day." The work of their partnership took on new urgency and prominence when the Colorado State Legislature passed SB 191 in May 2010. The law requires reforms in tenure, teacher and principal evaluation, teacher placement, and reduction-in-force practices.

student achievement graph

Data at a glance:
Total students 79,423
Total certified teachers 4,555
Total full-time staff 6,700
Number of schools 162
Enrollment, by race/ethnicity
—Hispanic: 58.4%
—American Indian:0.7%
Students eligible for free and reduced-price meals72.49%
English learners31%
Graduation rate 52.7%


Tom Boasberg, Superintendent, Denver Public Schools
Nate Easley, President, Denver Public Schools Board of Education
Carolyn Crowder, Executive Director, Denver Classroom Teachers Association
Henry Roman, President, Denver Classroom Teachers Association


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