Innovation Process for Schools

The innovation process for schools is grounded in Innovation School Act and DPS policy. As defined in DPS policy, innovation status provides an opportunity for schools to:

  • Accelerate the growth trajectory for marginalized students and prioritize them and their communities in our culture and decision-making;

  • Elevate the student experience through expanded academic learning, whole child support and the pursuit of passion;

  • Disrupt, dismantle and redesign systems and practices to ensure equity, transparency and excellence in the lived experiences of our students, families and team members.

The process towards gaining innovation status starts when a school community formulates a narrative, grounded in the school mission, that describes the innovative practices the school would implement. Innovation plans are organized around school culture, educational programming, teaching, school management & leadership, and governance. Innovation plans always reflect the current context of both the school and district, and as such can look different school to school. Many of an innovation school’s flexibilities require waivers from state law, DPS board policy, and/or collective bargaining agreements that are included at the end of an innovation plan. Ultimately, all plans are reviewed and approved by a vote of the school staff and community, the DPS Board, and the State Board of Education.

DPS strongly recommends schools seeking innovation status to do so in alignment with the UIP (Unified Improvement Plan) process. By doing so, schools can prioritize data-driven improvements to student outcomes, and inform which innovation flexibilities support  them in accomplishing the goals stated in the UIP. A school seeking innovation status should consider how flexibilities made available through an innovation plan could enhance the implementation of a UIP.

The annual UIP process begins early in the Spring semester, allowing schools to identify challenges informed by student performance, analyze the root causes for these challenges, and determine strategies to promote results. Schools looking to utilize the flexibilities available through an innovation plan should begin exploring the process late in the fall semester or early in the spring semester. For more information on the UIP process, please visit