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The Big Picture

The Douglas County School District (DCSD) is leading the nation as a model for the future of American education. Informed by research compiled from more than 140 renowned education experts and driven by our passion for student success, DCSD offers families their choice of school to attend, a carefully designed curriculum that goes well above and beyond the required content to instill 21st century skills that students will need to succeed in the college or career pathway of their choice, individualized attention to support their learning, and a balanced assessment system that removes the emphasis on a single standardized test and memorization, instead focusing on critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration. 

Follow our chronicle of this journey to transform education, below.

 
 

A Case for Change

 

A Case for Change: Why education must adapt to meet the needs of our students in this ever-changing world

 

A case for change

Driven by a passion for students and informed by the latest research, teachers and leaders in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) are reinventing American education. Many of our educators began this journey of reimagining the way they teach, after coming to the realization that the traditional education system no longer fully serves the needs of today’s students. Read more

 

The actual proves the possible

Douglas County School District (DCSD) teachers are leading the way. Empowered by District leadership, a group of pioneering educators has blazed a new path in education, exploring a new way of teaching to meet the needs of today’s students.

 


 

Curriculum: Exploring what makes curriculum different in the Douglas County School District

 

 

In Douglas County curriculum is centered on our goal

Science teacher, Eric Sonnentag, demonstrates that much of what an individual needs for a job is not taught in a classroom. This piece highlights the importance of DCSD's curriculum in achieving our goal of preparing students for their future-- beyond graduation.

 

Our students’ needs bring focus to our curriculum

In this article, teacher Amy Corr demonstrates that by freeing teachers from regimented curriculum, in which all students are expected to move at the same pace, we provide them the ability to meet the individualized needs of our students.

 

It All Comes Together

Secondary Curriculum Coordinator, Mary Murphy, gives an inside look at how the Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum was created.

 

What Six Teachers Are Saying About DCSD’s Curriculum

Six DCSD teachers had the opportunity to discuss with us how the GVC is working in their classrooms.

 

Seeing is Believing

In this article, students and parents acknowledge that change is scary. But they have found that DCSD’s curriculum flexibility, combined with choice, empowerment, and hands on learning, is working to increase engagement.

 


 

Assessment: Measuring what matters most

 

 

 

For most of us, the concept of student testing conjures dreaded memories from our childhoods; those awful pop quizzes, intensive finals and of course sitting down with number two pencils to fill in the bubbles of the state’s standardized tests. This article talks about how student growth does not have to look like this moving forward.

 

If you’ve ever been in a kindergarten class, you know that when children start school they are wide-eyed and excited to learn. Unfortunately, in our educational system, this changes for many students at some point during their school journey.

 

In the past, little, if any, thought was put into how students felt about the tests they took. While they are the single most important factor in their own academic success, they were left out of the process altogether. The Douglas County School District is changing this, seeking feedback during the development of assessments to ensure assessments are not only measuring what they are supposed to, but that they are also engaging the students and providing them with the feedback they need to grow.

 

The Douglas County School District (DCSD) is working to build a Balanced Assessment System, which will provide a comprehensive view of student achievement and growth, rather than relying on a single data point.

 


Instruction & Sustainable Learning

Student voice and choice, high-level thinking, authentic and fun learning opportunities, restorative learning practices that provide a safe atmosphere and the use of world class tools and technology

 

Why giving students voice & choice in classroom is important

 

While many parents fight a nightly battle with their children trying to get them to do their homework, Shannon McPherson has another problem. She sometimes has to struggle to pull her sixth-grader away from his homework when it is bedtime.

 

Some of the most powerful learning opportunities can happen when students are encouraged to follow their passion wherever it might take them.

 

 Every morning, the students at Summit View Elementary circle-up to welcome each other for the day.

 

There have long been sparks of change in the Douglas County School District. DCSD's goal has been to fan those flames of innovation, encouraging our talented educators to transform American education.

 

The Douglas County School District believes that every teacher should incorporate certain best practices into their work. Those high-level expectations, which include backward planning, collaborating with students and providing them actionable feedback are laid out in their evaluation tool, known as Continuous Improvement of Teacher Effectiveness (CITE). Additionally DCSD’s Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum provides the goals and targets that all students are expected to reach. This still leaves an incredible amount of flexibility for our professional educators.


 

Personalized Learning: Customizing learning so that it's "one-size-fits-one"

 

 

 

 

Every student is unique, bringing his or her own strengths and challenges to the classroom. The Douglas County School District (DCSD) believes that educators must work to customize learning so that it is ‘one-size-fits-one.’

 

In addition to the academic supports offered by DCSD’s Personalized Learning Department, there is a large and comprehensive group of professionals dedicated to the psychological and physical health of students.

 

Natasha Straayer, Douglas County School District’s Director of Educational Programming, says personalized learning is a bit like a building renovation project. Construction workers often place scaffolding around areas that need support, as well as places that are structurally sound where expansion is planned. 


 

While the needs of most students can be met within a typical classroom environment through universal or targeted programming—a small group of students require an even more intensive level of support. The Douglas County School District works to personalize learning for each and every child, including those that need the highest levels of support.



 

Evaluation: Ensuring fair and accurate assessments of DCSD employees, while encouraging their professional growth for the benefit of our students

 

The teachers and administrators that began the work of building the new evaluation system in 2010, prior to Superintendent Fagen, knew that by embedding District Values such as Adaptability, Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking & Decision Making, Customer Service, Integrity, Process Improvement and Safety into the evaluation would encourage all teachers to integrate them into their practices, ultimately benefitting students.

 

Over several months in Spring 2016, a group of Douglas County School District teachers, principals and administrators met to evaluate the District’s teacher and leader evaluation tools and to provide suggestions for improvement. They started the process by comparing and contrasting DCSD’s Continuous Improvement of Teacher Effectiveness (CITE) evaluation tool with the one developed by the State of Colorado and used by the majority of school districts in the state.
The CITE/LEAD Focus Group found a lot of similarities between the two documents. However, there were key differences, as well.
 
 
As the committee met, they proposed some changes to DCSD's evaluation, including renaming evaluation categories and removing backwards planning as a requirement. 
 
 
The District Accountability Committee Vice Chair served on the CITE focus group. He believes the proposed changes will rectify most teacher and principal concerns.

 

 

Education Elevated

Our Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan cover

No other school district in America is undertaking the far-reaching 21st century transformation of K-12 education like DCSD.

We know that the century-old education system was built for a different time, a time in which most students were being prepared for factory jobs. Our economy and our students have changed. It is only logical that our approach to education must change too. Read More...


Our Strategic Priorities

Safety
Maximizing physical, psychological and online safety for students, staff and community.

Choice 
Matching children to the best learning environment creates the highest probability of success.

World Class Education
Preparing our students to be the best in the world.

System Performance
Defining and measuring what matters most.