St. Vrain Valley Schools gives students a head start on earning their college degree

With a focus on long-term success for students, St. Vrain Valley Schools supports many opportunities for students to earn college credit before they even leave high school. One shining example of the impact of these opportunities is the CU Succeed program at Frederick High School.

The CU Succeed Silver and Gold programs collaborate with 115 Colorado high schools offering students exposure to the college experience, while earning college and high school credit concurrently. Students earn credit by enrolling in University of Colorado Denver courses taught at their high school by university-qualified teachers, at reduced tuition rates. 

“CU Succeed acclimates high school students to the college experience so they know what to expect, plus they’re already a step ahead once they get there,” said Danny Martinez, CU Succeed Program Director, University of Colorado Denver.

CU Denver has granted 1,858 credits to FHS students

Now in its fifth year with 225 students enrolled for 2015-16, the program at Frederick has become a model for success within the district. Frederick High School has supported 645 students in earning 1,858 university credits before graduating from high school.

"We introduced the CU Succeed program 4 years ago with one class and 25 students,” said Pete Vargas, Principal at Frederick High School. “Over the years, we’ve been able to save families $603,850 (a savings of $325 per credit hour) over the cost of normal CU tuition rates while giving their students a head start on pursuing a college degree.”

Professional Development for Teachers

In addition to supporting student development, the program also fosters professional development for teachers. Frederick High School currently has eight teachers on staff who have gone through the rigorous process of becoming a university-qualified teacher.

Jon Bassoff is entering his fourth year of teaching Advanced Placement Language and Composition, and Creative Writing courses in the Frederick High School program.

“Some of my students have earned 15-24 college credits before they enter college,” said Bassoff. “That’s an entire year of college before they step on campus - that’s certainly empowering for Frederick High School graduates.”

Preparing Students for Success

Kyle Kolanowski, a 2015 graduate of FHS, started taking CU Succeed courses as a sophomore, earning 24 college credits in everything from Writing & Rhetoric to Introduction to American Politics, as well as coursework in Psychology, Social Studies and Political Science.

“This year I am starting as freshman at the University of Colorado Boulder and double majoring in Engineering and Music,” said Kolanowski, “The CU Succeed courses I took in high school not only prepared me for college at CU Boulder, they put me that much further ahead than students who didn’t have this opportunity in high school.”

St. Vrain Valley Schools Offers Many College Enrollment Opportunities

St. Vrain Valley Schools offers many options and opportunities for students to earn credit before graduation. Longmont High School is in its seventh year as a CU Succeed school and has helped 1,472 students earn 3,651 college credits before graduation. The district also supports concurrent enrollment programs with Front Range Community College, Aims Community College and Colorado State University.

Additionally, the district is developing the state’s first P-TECH school for 2016-17. P-TECH, or Pathways in Technology Early College High School, is a new model of education connecting high school, college, and the world of work through college and industry partnerships. It’s a model that allows students to earn a high school diploma as well as an Associates of Applied Science degree, essentially paying for two years of college.

Included with this program will be significant internship and mentorship opportunities with industry partners like IBM, giving students a foot in the door on the other side of completing the program.

“This is a new educational model that engages the business community as well as the school district and higher education institutions,” said Brandon Shaffer, SVVSD’s newly hired P-TECH director. “It’s an exciting innovation in education, matching up curriculum with the needs of surrounding businesses, and opening opportunities for students upon graduation.”

St. Vrain Valley Schools explores every avenue for giving our students a head start in pursuing a post-secondary education. Whether it is extending high school options to include an AAS degree or supporting student concurrent enrollment with a Colorado higher education institution, St. Vrain Valley Schools’ first priority is setting up our students for long-term success.