High School Redesign

To learn more, please contact Alex Carter, 720-502-47053 Big Bets

The Challenge and CEI’s Solution

The typical American high school was designed to align with the social and economic demands of the early 20th century. While demands have changed drastically, our high schools have not and, at most, layers of additional options and requirements have been added without addressing underlying structures. Research confirms students become less engaged, productive, and curious the longer they attend U.S. schools and the gap between what today’s employers want and what most high schools produce is widening. In Colorado, after steady increases in the state graduation rate and steady decrease in dropout rates, those numbers have stalled. Moreover, more than one in three Colorado high school students who does go on to college is found to need remedial coursework. It’s time our education systems respond to the current needs of our communities and businesses. It’s time to redesign Colorado high schools.

Why This is a Smart Bet

Local policy is increasingly focused on expanding options for advanced course work and the Colorado Legislature and State Board of Education have created policies (Graduation Guidelines) requiring students in all districts to demonstrate proficiency at a “college and career ready” level by 2021. In addition, state level partners are pushing for course-work to be more rigorous and relevant to students’ lives after high school. Redesigning high schools is a comprehensive approach to achieving these outcomes through strategic partnerships at the state and local levels.

Targeting high schools is also a strategic entry point for work related to district transformation. Changes in high schools cause a ripple effect in middle schools and elementary schools, laying the foundation for true systems change. These changes also demand that district leadership engage communities in robust conversations about the value and outcomes of education, empower students with meaningful agency over their learning, allocate resources differently, and prioritize learning environments that support social and emotional development. Redesigning high schools can impact all five desired student outcomes (academic, professional, personal, entrepreneurial, and civic) and increase equitable access, two of CEI’s top priorities.


Social Emotional Redesign Network (SERN)
Cohort 2 Letter of Interest – Due April 4

Through the High School Redesign Initiative (HSR), Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) has supported districts and schools for the past year in a network focused on empowering teachers and students to design and implement personalized learning environments that attend to each and every student’s social and emotional needs and offer relevant and rigorous experiences to prepare them for postsecondary learning, work, and life. As a subset of the HSR schools focused specifically on the Social Emotional Development of staff and students, the Social Emotional Redesign Network (SERN) will leverage funding from the Colorado Health Foundation and the supports of CEI to engage up to 16 schools in the initial steps of redesigning for social emotional wellness this spring.

Click below to read a detailed project overview, letter of interest questions, and submit your letter of interest by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 2019.

  • SERN Project Overview
  • SERN Letter of Interest Questions
    • Please review the LOI questions before completing the online submission form below. You will not be able to save your progress on the submission form, so we suggest filling out and saving the attached word version and then copying to the online submission form when you’re finished.

Click HERE to submit your SERN Letter of Interest Form


Do you want to learn more about high school redesign? Join us June 26-28, to shift into high gear for transformation.

CEI is offering a unique experience for school teams, much like a summer camp for teachers, where they will work with experts from award-winning schools and develop action plans to advance rigor, relevance, and social-emotional learning in high schools.

Click here to learn more and register for the Accelerator.

Assessment for Learning Project (ALP)

The Colorado Education Initiative is supporting a group of Colorado districts in developing capstone/portfolio projects with an intentional focus on equity. The overall goal of the project is to identify and support a core group of Colorado districts and high schools that will serve as exemplars and act as “learning laboratories” for their peers in using assessment for learning to promote equity and ensure that every student is post-secondary and workforce ready (PWR) upon graduation from high school.

By implementing this work with a clear focus on and commitment to leveraging performance-based pathways and assessment for and as learning practices for the purpose of surfacing and addressing systemic inequities, the learning and outcomes of this proposal have the opportunity to both advance the goal of a balanced system of assessments within Colorado school districts, and intentionally apply an equity lens to the implementation of Colorado’s Graduation Guidelines in a way that broadens and deepens the impact of assessment for and as learning within district systems.

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