Imagine a school district where children are encouraged to discover and develop their passions; where students can follow those passions into state-of-the-art classrooms, kitchens, workshops and laboratories. Imagine a school district where learning is rigorous and relevant to the real world; where students can demonstrate knowledge and mastery through more than a high stakes test; and where graduates are prepared for success in the world that awaits them.
Welcome to the Cherry Creek School District 2021.
At the January Parents’ Council meeting, the district unveiled CCSD2021, a vision for the future of what is already an outstanding public school system.
“This is about maintaining excellence,” said Dr. Scott Siegfried, Associate Superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools. “This is about making sure that all students are prepared to be successful in their future.”
In the fall of 2015, Cherry Creek Schools embarked on CCSD2021, a process to update graduation requirements for the Class of 2021 (this year’s seventh-graders) and beyond, as required by state law. The process will also ensure that the district is providing the people, programming and other opportunities graduates need to be college and career-ready.
Community meetings were held in each of the district’s six feeder areas. The gatherings gave students, parents, employees and community members the opportunity to share their thoughts on what future graduates will need to be successful in higher education and the workforce. The district also interviewed CCSD graduates, educators, business leaders and others about the skills, knowledge and experiences successful graduates will need in the next decade.
As a result of the CCSD2021 process, more than a dozen recommendations will be made to the Board of Education. They include:
1. Expanding the district’s existing early literacy focus. Research shows that students who develop strong literacy skills by third grade have much better success throughout their lives.
2. Offering more opportunities for students to explore their interests and possible career paths as early as sixth grade.
3. Providing students and parents with more information about class options, graduation requirements and college admission requirements in middle and high school.
4. Allowing students to demonstrate competency in multiple ways, not just through standardized tests. For example, students could pass a concurrent enrollment class or earn an industry certificate to show mastery of a certain skill or subject.
5. Adopting a Professional Learning Community model throughout the district as a way to support continuous improvement for every student
As part of the CCSD2021 process, the district has established several committees to examine related issues that impact academic achievement, such as high school start times. Cherry Creek Schools is also considering a Career and Innovation Academy, which would build on the district’s strong Career and Technical Education program and give students more opportunities to explore career options, gain valuable work experience and even earn industry certifications.
CCSD2021 will be presented to the Board of Education this spring.