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  • Students are the Focus

    Douglas County School District is committed to providing our best teachers-- those that truly help our students to succeed-- with professional pay.

  • Goodbye Step-and-Lane

    Instead of relying on seat time, DCSD takes the market into consideration when determining the salary of our teachers, ensuring we have the flexibility to attract and retain the best talent possible.

  • Collaboration Pays

    We know the best ideas in education often come through collaboration, so we reward teachers that work together.

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Douglas County School District is one of the first districts in America to truly address the lack of professional compensation for education professionals.

Nearly every district in Americas uses a salary schedule developed in the early 1900's to pay certified employees. teachers are paid according to an x/y grid, in which x (or step) equals years of service and y (or lane) equals the level of education. Every year a teacher moves up a “step,” because they’ve added a year and when they earn another degree they move to the next lane. You simply find your block on the matrix, and that is your compensation, regardless of your role or your performance.

In a time where there is a clear shortage of the highest quality education staff and a time where being an education professional has never been more rigorous and demanding, DCSD finds it unacceptable to continue under this broken system. It is not in the best interest of our students, staff, or community.

Pay for Performance at a glance

The Douglas County School District (DCSD) is once again leading the way in education reform—launching a new Pay for Performance system, which better celebrates our amazing educators and employees for their great work.

The Pay for Performance diagram to the right demonstrates how the new system works. Teachers that are effective and highly effective have opportunities for pay increases and bonuses.

Those that are not will receive feedback and training to improve their skills. Opportunities for professional development through coaching and training will, however, be available to all employees, ensuring that even those employees that are exemplary become examples for others in their field.

The goal of market-based pay is to ensure the Douglas County School District has the ability to attract and retain the best talent possible.

In the old Step-and-Lane system, which dates back to the early 20th century, school district employees were hired based on a few criteria, primarily longevity and their educational background.

"Whenever you're confined in a system to certain dynamics, you're not recognizing the realities in the market place," explained Chief Human Resources Officer Brian Cesare.

Beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, all new teachers are hired using a more modern, transparent market-based pay system, which takes a wider picture of not only a candidate’s education, certificates, experience and skill, but also supply and demand, to determine a baseline offer.

He says it is important to have the freedom to look at different factors.

"Being able to weight those factors and create a pay that mimics the uniqueness of the position, allows us to attract and retain the best people. That is very important to us," Cesare said.

A more modern, transparent system
In order to create a Market-Based Pay system, the Human Resources Department identified more than 70 different positions and then differentiated them into five pay bands, based on how many qualified candidates we usually receive.

When a district advertises some positions, there are a lot of qualified candidates. In other cases, there are only a few applicants. Because there is higher demand for those candidates, like certified nurses, psychologists or physics teachers, school districts must pay a premium.

It is important to note that this is in no way an evaluation of the importance of the position. Every position within a District is necessary for it to function well. Instead, it is simply an understanding of the impact of supply and demand.

Employee Salary Information

The following are the Salary documents for the employees of the Douglas County School District.

2016-2017 School Year

ATU Salary Matrix 2016-2017
Mechanics Comp 2016-2017
Licensed Salary Bands 2016-2017
Classified Salary Ranges 2016-2017
Merit Increases *Effective 07/01/16

2017-2018 School Year

Licensed Salary Ranges  2017-2018


Knowing that the most important factor in student success is the effectiveness of their teacher, DCSD incentivizes effectiveness in the classroom, rather than just their years of service or education.

It is important to note that the District still honors the continuing education of its staff. Tuition reimbursement was increased from $750 to $2,000 a year for teachers who are taking courses that will result in a positive impact to their students.

For that reason, since 2012, the District has differentiated pay. Naturally, DCSD’s Highly Effective teachers receive the largest raise. Last year that equaled 5 percent.

Additionally, the system provides opportunities for DCSD to keep salaries competitive against other Districts and to rectify inequalities created by the four years of pay freezes.

It is also important to mention that if a teacher moves from one position to another and switches pay bands, this has no effect on their base salary and they are still eligible for performance pay.

Finally, in the old Step and Lane system, teachers would hit a cap and would not be able to get a raise, regardless of how hard they worked. For instance, in Cherry Creek Public Schools, that amount is $85,587. DCSD’s system rectifies this. Highly effective teachers can continue to increase their annual salary up to $100,000.

 Douglas County School District does it differently because it does not want to disincentive performance.

While many Colorado school districts simply implemented the state's evaluation system, Douglas County created its own, better suited to meet the needs of our teachers and district.

In Douglas County, instructional best practices are at the center of the teacher evaluation system. The ultimate goal is to ensure that these research-based practices are utilized in every classroom in our District, every day—because we know they are best for our students.

The Continuous Improvement of Teacher Effectiveness (CITE) evaluation tool was built through a collaboration with teachers and administrators over the past five years and is comprised of six standards.

Intentionally, the first three standards –Outcomes, Assessment and Instruction – are tied directly to the backward planning process all teachers use in our District. READ MORE...

The new evaluation system which satisfies and exceeds the rigorous requirements of Colorado Senate Bill 191 (SB 191), is comprised of two components, each worth 50 percent. Half is the teacher practice side and the other half is the student performance side, per SB 191.

DCSD Teacher Evaluation System
Teacher Practice: Standards 1-5 (50% of evaluation through Continuous Improvement of Teacher Effectiveness, which is known as CITE).

Student Performance: Standard 6 (50% of evaluation through the Teacher's Body of Evidence from the Balanced Assessment System).  

Based on the results of the evaluation, teachers will be designated as Highly Effective, Effective or Below Effective.

The goal of Professional Development in DCSD is to provide all employees sustainable personalized professional development to grow, maximize their potential and achieve the District’s desired outcomes.

We seek to enable employees to provide each child the maximum opportunity for success, achieving sustainable learning for the 21st century and defining and measuring what matters most.

Professional Development is integrated throughout the entire Pay for Performance system to support teachers at each level of expertise. All educators have the opportunity to take courses and receive feedback that will make them more effective in the classroom.

The Douglas County School District knows that being a highly effective teacher is often connected to the work done before the school day begins.

There are practices that can help ensure that the lessons provided in the classroom are of the highest quality, including our twelve World-Class Targets, which will help determine whether a teacher will receive an additional bonus.

The 12 World Class Targets are:​​

Backward Design

Provides a World Class Education through a three-stage framework beginning with the “end in mind” (Stage 1: Desired Results) followed by assessing the results (Stage 2: Assessment) and finally providing learning experiences and opportunities for practice and application (Stage 3: Learning Experiences).

DCSD transforms traditional instructional planning through the continuous improvement of Backwards Design units and World Class Outcomes.

21st century skills Integration

Inclusion, application and support of 21st century skills in the learning environment. These are the skills, understandings and expertise students must master to succeed in work and life; it is a blend of content knowledge, specific skills, expertise and literacies.

  • Global Awareness
  • Creativity- Trying new approaches to get things done equals innovation and invention.
  • Financial Literacy Ethics
  • Communication- Sharing thoughts, questions, ideas and solutions
  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking- Looking at problem in a new way, linking learning across subjects and disciplines.
  • Health/Wellness
  • Resiliency/Adaptability
  • Civic Responsibility
  • Systems Thinking
  • Collaboration- Working together to reach a goal – putting talent, expertise and smarts to work.
  • Social Responsibility

Sustainable Learning

Educational opportunities targeting the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy that afford learners the opportunity to develop meaningful products on a global campus. Provides all learners real-world, project-based learning with opportunities to transfer their learning in authentic ways.


Student Engagement

Designs and delivers rigorous and relevant lessons that allow students the opportunity to delve more deeply into the subject and transfer their learning.


Advocacy for ALL Students

Actively create and implement a process to support ALL students ("ALL learners" needs to address differente learning styles based on the individual student's unique abilities and special needs), by establishing relationships, personalizing learning, meeting developmental and cultural needs of diverse learners and integrating life skills into daily practice. The process includes:
  • Become self-aware by directly teaching and practicing self-advocacy skills
  • Student driven learning explores career/professional pathways
  • Advocate with educatoinal support team for all students to feel safe and supported academically, socially, and emotionally
  • Maximize opportunities to explore and achieve their full potential

Restorative Practices

Develop community and relationships through shared learning to manage conflict, repair the harm that was done and restore the community.


Professional Growth and Development

Professional Growth and Development is a personal and collective responsibility to enhance expertise by implementing the most current, highly effective practices in education. These practices support the District’s Strategic Plan, are informed by national and international organizations in education and meet the needs of the workforce.


Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessment is a performance-based assessment in which the task or performance:

a) includes multiple criteria that clearly aligns to expected outcomes
b) emulates meaningful real-world context
c) is cognitively complex
d) requires student-structured demonstration of knowledge and skill
e) produces direct evidence of the degree of student mastery


Teacher leaders shape the culture of their schools, influence practice among their peers and are the instructional pioneers who model world- class teaching. Teacher leaders also take on formal and informal leadership roles at the school and district level.



Demonstration of actions, behaviors, and activities that correspond to the District’s Strategic plan and the building plan.


Student Satisfaction

Demonstrates responsiveness to data from ongoing student surveys regarding specific District outcomes as aligned to CITE standards 1, 2, and 3. Data will be collected at the summation of each unit.


Parent Satisfaction

Demonstrates responsiveness to data from ongoing parent surveys regarding specific District outcomes as aligned to CITE standards 1, 2, and 3. Data will be collected at the summation of each unit.



Douglas County Employees interested in pursuing World Class Targets, follow this link to the general information page. 



Related Stories

Some of Douglas County School District’s most amazing teachers are being honored for the daily effort and skill they put in to creating a World-Class education for their students.

100 teachers help to build World-Class Targets 

The goal of Douglas County School District’s Pay for Performance system is to retain and encourage our amazing teachers, which is why the final part of the plan is Professional Pathways.

DCSD's Professional Pathways program is currently being developed. Chief Human Resources Officer Brian Cesare says the goal will be to help all staff members improve.

“There are three different pathways people can take. The first pathways is around performance: How can I improve my performance in whatever it is today to a higher level tomorrow. The second and third pathways are for those that are already high performers,” Cesare said.

Highly effective teachers, for instance will be given two opportunities—mentoring other teachers to help them improve or training to become a leader in a different role, from Building Resource Teacher to principal.