Westminster, CO

A pioneering district in suburban Denver went from turnaround status to success story by partnering with Cognia. Using innovations in individualized learning and continuous improvement, Westminster schools saw dramatic results and avoided state takeover.

Challenges

With a shift to competency-based education, Westminster (CO) Public Schools engaged its students and faculty, but encountered a mismatch between what was happening in classrooms and how the district performed on state tests. At one point, 13 of the district’s 18 schools were put “on the clock,” meaning that—based in large part on low student test scores—they were given “turnaround” or priority improvement status in the state accountability system.

Solutions

Westminster called on Cognia (AdvancED) for help. Our diagnostic review and evaluation systems, classroom observation tools, leadership coaching, and planning protocols helped the district identify strategies that promoted greater instructional consistency for its pioneering instructional model. District leaders created a managed pathway plan focused on continuous improvement, choosing Cognia as its continuous improvement and accountability partner.

Results

With just a year to avoid takeover—or the potential of a forced merger with another school district—Westminster saw the number of its schools in the top tier of the state rating system double, which stopped the clock and allowed the district to maintain control of its destiny. Leaders learned that no matter what instructional model a district follows, creating a shared vision for continuous improvement efforts is the foundation for success.