Innovation & Improvement

  • Students and teachers

    “We seek to be the best at getting better”

    ~ Susana Cordova, DPS Superintendent

    Who We Are

    The Innovation & Improvement Team bring together knowledge and experience of the best practices of improvement science, human-centered design and innovative thinking with the techniques of quantitative and qualitative analysis and research, to build a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, so together, we can ensure all students thrive, not by accident but by design.

    Our Agenda

    The Innovation & Improvement Team is committed to nurturing a culture of innovation and continuous improvement in DPS.  We seek to empower students, school communities, teachers, leaders and central office teams to innovate and continuously improve in service of our students. We do this by building capacity in improvement science to help us learn fast to implement well.  We facilitate the design of innovative solutions to our most persistent and complex problems and study what’s working, for whom, under what conditions so we can spread and scale what works.  We facilitate Networked Improvement Communities (NIC’s)  to leverage the power of social learning combined with scientific discipline to accelerate impact. We empower  those closest to the problems to deepen our collective understanding of the challenges faced, design changes, test ideas, and generate solutions. In doing so, the improvements and innovations generated are relevant and beneficial to the people they are intended to serve.

    How Will We Work With You

    We begin our work with you with a discovery conversation.  We listen to understand what you seek to achieve, what you are grappling with, what you see as opportunities and what you anticipate might  be challenges. When best practice research doesn’t address your problem or we don’t yet have a clear change idea to test, we will engage in human centered design thinking.  We will create a partnership agreement to clearly define what you will get from us and what we will achieve together within a given timeframe.  We will  work with you to answer three key questions::

    • What problem are we trying to solve?
    • What changes might we introduce and why?
    • How will we know the change is actually an improvement?

    You can expect us to demonstrate the DPS Core Values of Equity, Integrity, Collaboration, Accountability, Students First and Fun.  In addition, we ground our work in these Beliefs & Guiding Principles.

    What You Will Get Working With Us

    To respond to the rapid pace of change in our society today, we have to continuously learn. When you work with us you will get better at getting better.  We combine  human-centered design thinking and improvement science as an integrated strategic and analytical approach to develop problem solving and innovative patterns of thinking and action.  When we work together, this integrated and disciplined approach will become part of your teams’ DNA enabling us to face the next challenge and continuously improve our service to students.

    Examples of Our Work and Partnership

    Supports We Offer


    Thought-Partnership and Coaching

    • Support in developing a Theory of Action for Improvement
    • Using Human Centered Design to find solutions that are responsive to the unique circumstances we face
    • Networks for Improvement
     Mag glass  Understanding the problem trying to be solved from the user perspective 
    • Empathy Exercises
    • Process/Systems Mapping
    • Research Review
     person  Facilitation/Training
    • Improvement Science Methods
    • Human Centered Design/Design Thinking
    • After Action Review/Post Mortem
    • Networks for Improvement
     pencil  Analysis
    • Measures for Improvement
    • Qualitative & Quantitative techniques
     write  Research & Support in Studying Pilots/Innovations
    • Using short cycles to understand how implementation is going in the field to inform continuous improvement
    • Using data to inform district level and school level actions

    Interested in support or partnership?



  • Innovation & Improvement
    Impact Office
    1860 Lincoln St., 12th Floor
    Denver, CO 80203
    Sandra Lochhead

    Sandy Lochhead
    Sr. Manager, Innovation & Improvement

    June Marcel
    Site Manager