CCSD shares information on career education and student engagement


Sarah Grobbel is CCSD Assistant Superintendent of Career and Innovation.

At its regular board of education meeting on November 8, Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) Career and Innovation Assistant Superintendent Sarah Grobbel shared updates on CCSD’s 2020 and 2021 summer learning programs and provided updates on its programs at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus (CCIC), along with district concurrent enrollment statistics.

Summer enrichment

In the summer of 2020, approximately 1,100 elementary school-aged students participated in the Power Scholars Academy, CCSD’s summer learning program in partnership with the YMCA. It met nine times at 16 elementary school sites, focused on literacy and math. Pre-test and post-test data demonstrated an average of over two months of growth in each area for each student.

This chart shows the number of CCSD students enrolled in career and technical education in high schools as well as middle schools for the current school year and the previous two.

At the middle school level, 3,578 sixth and seventh graders attended three one-half day sessions of Summer Launch Camp held at all 12 of CCSD’s middle schools during the first week of August 2020. They participated in project-based learning and “rediscover school” activities. 

In-person high school summer classes have historically focused on grade recovery or enhancement for students who performed poorly in a class or just wanted to try to raise their grade. There have also been online opportunities for students who needed to take classes they could not fit in their schedule. Since CCIC opened, summer opportunities have been provided there for students for career exploration, to earn college credit or work toward an industry certificate. Although only half the usual number of students participated in what was exclusively virtual or online summer school in 2020, the numbers picked up in 2021 to 542 students, only ten percent fewer than the average number of students in 2018 and 2019, nearly all of whom attended classes in person rather than virtual. In addition, there were 821 semesters of online courses for which CCSD students enrolled in the summer of 2021.

MS STEMblazers, an empowerment series and STEM career exploration in aerospace, engineering/construction, aviation and medical cancer research for girls in grades six through eight was also offered in summer 2021. 

The Cherry Creek Schools Foundation paid for curriculum, transportation, supplies and child care expenses for programs at the elementary, middle and high school levels, as well as scholarships for high school students for summer school. 

Career and technical education 

The purpose of the career and technical education (CTE) program at CCSD is to promote college and career readiness through pathways with purpose. Grobbel presented charts showing how the CTE programs have been growing in CCSD and the level of enrollment in various CTE areas. 

This chart shows the percentage of students enrolled in specific CTE pathways at CCIC.

At CCIC, the most popular CTE pathway is health and wellness, followed by (automotive and aviation) transportation. Grobbel shared that CCIC is graduating “about 140 students every semester” with a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate. She said that CCIC is considering adding a biochemistry pathway and that she expects the school to reach its capacity within the next two years. Lastly, Grobbel presented data on the percentage of enrollment at CCIC that is being provided by each regular CCSD high school. Nearly half of CCIC students are from two high schools combined, Eaglecrest (27%) and Cherokee Trail (21%). The traditional high schools contributing the smallest number of students to CCIC are Cherry Creek (7%) followed by Overland and Smoky Hill (10% each). 

Concurrent enrollment

This program allows high school students to earn college credits at the state’s community colleges by completing certain designated high school classes without paying tuition, although they must use their College Opportunity Fund dollars provided to every high school student at no cost by the State of Colorado for use at Colorado colleges and universities. These classes are transferrable to the state’s four-year institutions in the same way as are other community college credits.

This chart shows the number of CCSD students who participated in concurrent enrollment and the number of classes for which they enrolled.

In addition to the charts showing the number of students who participated in the program for the past four years and the number of concurrent enrollment classes for which they enrolled, Grobbel shared that female students outnumbered male students 53% to 47% this year in the program and that English and math were the most popular courses taken by concurrent enrollment students, followed by literature and business. The CCSD high schools with the largest number of concurrent enrollment students this school year are Cherokee Trail with 1,417 and Grandview with 1,172. 

Board questions

In response to questions from CCSD board members, Grobbel shared: 

  • There was sufficient capacity in the summer programs to accommodate every student who wanted to participate. 
  • Students who took concurrent enrollment classes will have the grade they received in the class appear on their community college transcripts.
  • All students who needed a scholarship for a summer class at CCSD was able to get it.
  • Colorado Department of Education oversees the concurrent enrollment program provided through the state’s community colleges.
  • There are 30 full time employees at CCIC, half of whom came from other CCSD high schools, allowing for cost containment at CCIC.