Quality Improvement

Quality Improvement

Working together to build a bright future, today 

Decades of research confirm that preschool helps children succeed in kindergarten and beyond by:

  • Increasing kindergarten readiness[1]
  • Increasing third grade reading test scores[2]
  • Decreasing grade retention and remediation[3]
  • Increasing high school graduation rates[4]
  • Increasing lifetime earnings[5]

That’s why the Denver Preschool Program strives to continuously raise the bar on delivering quality education to Denver’s youngest citizens. Since 2007, the Denver Preschool Program has invested more than $11 million in quality improvement resources and preschool ratings for Denver preschools.

Why Quality Matters

The best predictor for school readiness is a strong relationship between students and their teachers. As a result, the Denver Preschool Program launched a new Quality Improvement (QI) framework in 2015-2016. The QI framework is a support system that rewards preschool programs, directors and teachers for reaching certain milestones.

It is built around Denver Preschool Program’s core quality values of intentional teaching, highly effective teachers, and positive teacher-child interactions and includes investments in professional development and early childhood coursework, targeted coaching for directors and teachers, and classroom learning materials.

How We Evaluate Quality

Colorado Shines
The Denver Preschool Program uses the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to measure program quality. Colorado Shines rates all licensed preschools in Colorado on a scale of 1 to 5 based on five main categories of quality: Teacher Qualifications, Family Partnerships, Leadership/Management/Administration, Learning Environment and Child Health. More than 80 percent of participating preschools have earned a Colorado Shines rating of Level 3 or higher.  This compares to just 16 percent of licensed child care programs and preschools statewide having earned at least level 3.

CLASS®
Denver Preschool Program also requires all participating preschools to receive the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®) observation in their DPP classrooms. The CLASS® measures the quality of teacher-child interactions in a classroom as they relate to emotional support, classroom organization and instructional support. We want to ensure that all DPP children are being cared for in loving classrooms that are building their vocabulary and strengthening problem-solving skills, all of which are vital as they prepare for success in kindergarten.

Choose Quality

By considering the quality rating when choosing a preschool, parents can rest assured that participating programs are committed to giving their child the best early education. Use our Find a Preschool tool to research the quality rating of programs near you.

For more information about the Denver Preschool program’s Quality Improvement Framework, contact Chris Miller, director of quality initiatives at chris@dpp.org.

Quality Improvement Partners

Clayton Early Learning
Clayton Early Learning provides national leadership to advance the field of early childhood education by researching, implementing and disseminating innovative teaching models. DPP partners with Clayton to provide one-on-one customized coaching for DPP classroom teachers, professional development trainings and conduct CLASS® observations.

Denver’s Early Childhood Council
Denver’s Early Childhood Council is a coalition of leaders across Denver committed to working together on behalf of our youngest children. The Council partners closely with Clayton to provide coaching for DPP teachers and conduct professional development trainings. They also have created the ecConnect portal, where preschools can easily register their teachers for trainings and request funding to enroll teachers in early childhood college courses or purchase needed learning materials for DPP classrooms.

Qualistar Colorado
Qualistar Colorado is a nonprofit organization working to improve the quality of early childhood education across Colorado. Qualistar manages the DPP T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® scholarship program and partners with Clayton Early Learning to conduct CLASS® observations in DPP classrooms.


[1] Karoly, L. A., & Bigelow, J. H. (2005). The economics of investing in universal preschool education in California. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
[2],5 Hernandez, D.J. (2011) Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation. Baltimore, MD: The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
[3] Yoshikawa, H., & Weiland, C. (2013).  Impacts of a Prekindergarten Program on Children’s Mathematics, Language, Literacy, Executive Function, and Emotional Skills. Washington, D.C.: Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
[4] U.S. Department of Education (2015): A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.