Launching CEI’s 5-year Vision and Strategic Plan

September 8, 2023

Thriving Young People, Flourishing Communities: CEI’s Vision for Delivering on the Promise of Public Education

Message from CEI President and CEO Rebecca Holmes 

CEI President and CEO Rebecca Holmes

CEI is starting the 2023-24 school year with a new five-year vision that is grounded in our belief about what is possible for the future of public education in Colorado. A future where: 

  • All young people in Colorado exit K-12 education boldly taking their next steps toward hopeful, equitable, and prosperous futures. 
  • Cross-sector partnerships within communities across the state expand equitable access to relevant and meaningful learning — decreasing the Colorado Paradox and advancing regional economic growth and prosperity. 
  • The promise of public education is a tangible and vibrant reality for students, families, and teachers of Colorado who create brighter futures with every new day.  

Throughout the spring, we engaged nearly 100 superintendents and state ecosystem leaders to learn about their perspectives on top opportunities and challenges facing K-12 education in Colorado over the next five years, as well as opportunities for CEI to drive positive change. I’m excited to share what we heard, what we are doing in response, and what impacts we are seeing from district partners that inspire our optimism about what a high-quality public education system can do for Colorado and its communities.  

Feedback from the field 

  • While Colorado is often highlighted as a leader in blurring the lines between K-12 education, postsecondary education, and industry, there is significant lack of alignment between what our state says are priorities (for example: career-connected learning and applied problem solving) and the way our current policy framework supports and incentivizes high school leaders trying to move in this direction. 
  • Consensus is building around the importance of district leadership and governance, and Colorado’s district leaders and school boards need more support.  
  • Colorado’s superintendents increasingly identify the politicization of schools and a polarized narrative about K-12 education as top concerns for the next five years and connect these concerns to other challenges they face in the K-12 education system, including the teacher shortage. Stakeholder feedback emphasized the need for CEI to help change the narrative around public education given both our proximity to positive impact within and across school districts and our positioning in the broader state ecosystem. 

Our response 
We are:  

  • Scaling district systems change outcomes that champion relevant and meaningful learning. 
  • Empowering leaders to advance aligned state-level change needed to sustain local impact. 
  • Spreading successful strategies statewide to ignite success for all students. 

We do this by:  

  • Expanding our support for courageous leadership and aligned governance within core partner school districts as a strategy to scale and sustain systems impact.  
  • Investing in two state-level ecosystem building efforts where superintendent partners share priority and CEI has implementation impact: 
    1. Strengthening coherence between K-12 education, postsecondary education, and workforce by advancing aligned K-12 education policy to expand and sustain relevant learning and enabling policy at the intersection of K-12 and postsecondary education. 
    2. Addressing the future of educational talent, staffing, and delivery models by exploring educator role redesign, staffing model design, and narrative change 

Impacts we are championing 

Highlighted below are three recent examples of district impacts that show what is possible through partnership in these areas. 

  • District 51 is partnering with Colorado Mesa University Tech to ensure the next generation is equipped for success through certificate and associate degrees geared toward fulfilling students’ potential and leading to high-paying, in-demand jobs. This is one great example of blurring the lines between K-12 and postsecondary education to expand and sustain relevant learning and advance approaches to postsecondary policy that better support Colorado students in earning toward certificates and degrees.  
  • St. Vrain Valley Schools is one of five grantees to receive an Opportunity Now Scale award, focused on implementing three comprehensive career pathways in education, advanced manufacturing, and information technology through cross-district partnership with Adams 12, Weld RE-3J, and Estes Park school districts. This work will also provide new learning about educator role and staffing model design, with partner districts replicating St. Vrain’s P-TEACH grow-your-own teacher program and virtually connecting their students to St. Vrain’s classes through new classroom technology.  

The school year is already presenting possibility, including the exciting engagement opportunities featured below. Take a look and reach out if you are interested in partnership. We look forward to collaborating soon!