Douglas County School District

Douglas County School District

Douglas County School District (DCSD) is the third-largest school district in Colorado, serving more than 60,000 students. The DCSD partnership with the Douglas County Federation (DCF) of teachers and classified employees is an outstanding example of labor-management collaboration and innovation that dates back two decades. DCSD/DCF collaborative efforts towards improving student achievement began in the early 1990s as one of the nation's first successful models of pay-for-performance. The program incorporated two distinct components: a base salary structure and bonus incentive awards. The program was developed over a nine-month period, and the final plan was approved by 80 percent of DCSD teaching staff.

The school district and union's collaborative and innovative efforts have continued in the development of the Continuous Improvement of Teacher Effectiveness (CITE) initiative. CITE is a multi-year process with the goal of producing an end product that will benefit teachers and students. The process has had teacher input from the very beginning. CITE is aimed at:

  • Making evaluation less subjective and more reflective;
  • Basing evaluation less on one observation or "snapshot" of a teacher's proficiency as an educator and more as a way to inform the evaluator about the teacher's abilities in instruction and to improve his or her success in the classroom.

DCSD/DCF collaborative efforts also created the only waiver/candidate program in Colorado that allows certification of district teachers in hard-to-fill positions. This initiative has been recognized by the Legacy Foundation.

The most recent innovative initiative of DCSD/DCF is their current work to redesign performance pay as part of teacher evaluation. They are committed to a five-year collaborative effort with equal representation of teachers and administrators. In a 2010 visit to Colorado, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan summed up Douglas County's talent management efforts: "As this thing unfolds, you have a chance to create a model for the entire country. This is a big, big deal. You have a chance to break new ground here."

DCSD consistently exceeds Colorado state averages in every grade and subject tested on the CSAP (Colorado Student Assessment Program). In 2010, DCSD students exceeded the state average by 13 to 20 percentage points.

student achievement graph

Data at a glance:
Total students 61,465
Total certified teachers3,297
Total full-time staff6,245
Number of schools80
Enrollment, by race/ethnicity
—White: 77.1%
—Asian: 3.9%
—Black: 2.2%
—Other: 4.1%
Students eligible for free and reduced-price meals10.6%
English learners2.9%
Graduation rate 91.4%


Elizabeth Celania-Fagen, Superintendent, Douglas County School District
Dan Gerken, Vice President, Douglas County School Board
Brenda Smith, President, Douglas County Federation of Teachers and Classified Employees & President of AFT Colorado


District Website:
District Contract: