Our annual check of Colorado’s Academy’s indicators of school health progress shows a forward-thinking and innovative school with high parent satisfaction, strong community support, and high demand for the education that CA delivers. In my recent annual address to the community, I reviewed a number of “dashboard indicators” that help tell the story of the school’s current position.
Like nearly all private schools, Colorado Academy’s budget is “tuition-driven,” as 90 percent of its income is derived from tuition and fees. The school annually draws five percent of the trailing twelve-quarter average of the CA Endowment’s market value each year. Any annual earnings beyond the five percent are reinvested to continue to build the endowment corpus. CA’s Endowment continues to grow through careful stewardship on the part of the Endowment Advisory Committee and through ongoing fundraising that is a part of each of the school’s capital campaigns. The school is debt-free, maintains strong cash reserves, and continues its annual and capital fundraising.
This year, the school must raise $1.6 million in unrestricted annual giving in order to balance its budget. The CA Fund has reached $1.4 million to date, with much of CA’s campaign efforts condensed into the first part of the school year, though the school’s efforts will continue through the end of the school’s fiscal year on June 30, 2018. Parent participation stands at 76 percent for this year.
Running a school like CA requires an investment in human capital; faculty and staff salaries and benefits comprise 63 percent of the school’s expenses. Financial Aid accounts for 11 percent of annual expenses (’16-’17). For the coming academic year, CA will give more than $3.5 million in aid, assisting approximately 19 percent of the school’s student body.
Demand for a CA education remains strong with 97 percent of CA families returning again next year. This year’s admission cycle garnered the second highest number of applications in the school’s history. All three divisions are experiencing strong interest, with CA bucking national trends of decreasing Lower School enrollment. We had strong interest in our Lower School, the strongest demand on record for our Middle School, and continued strength in Upper School applicants, which has been the trend since the new Upper School academic building opened in 2013. There is strong interest both locally and from families outside the Denver area as they relocate to the Mile High City for employment.
Colorado Academy continues to offer a college preparatory curriculum emphasizing the basic disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences. A key part of the school’s program is an emphasis on 21st century skills, including critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, cultural competence, and character development.
We track a number of markers, though they are not considered by CA to be the most comprehensive indicators of student academic success. For the Class of 2017, mean ACT scores are at 30.4, mean SAT Reading and Writing scores are at 670, with 655 for math. Also in 2017, 142 students took 306 Advanced Placement exams.
- Percentage of students scoring 3 or more on AP exams in 2016-17: 94.25%
- Percentage of students in 2015-2016: 89%
CA works to continually improve and innovate in our academic programs for students of all ages. Here is a summary of just some of this year’s innovations and introductions by division:
- Launched Writers Workshop in all grades;
- Introduced Investigations 3 Math Curriculum;
- Introduced MAP® Growth™ mathematics and reading assessments;
- Continued social and emotional learning work with students through the Responsive Classroom program;
- Enhanced learning opportunities through technology, including providing robotics competitions for fifth grade students and introducing more coding opportunities for students.
- Launched our new Innovation and Design Studio;
- Introduced an overnight trip for seventh grade;
- Piloted student-driven Spring Conferences;
- Introduced new assessments in math, writing, and critical thinking: (MAP® Growth™ for Math; WrAP Writing Test, and CWRA+ Critical Thinking Assessment);
- Introduced first-ever Middle School Day of Writing celebration.
- Introduced a new Ninth Grade Intensive academic program which allowed a deep dive into a single topic (U.S. immigration policy);
- Expanded offerings in Innovations and Computer Science, including courses in Robotics and Needs-Based Design.
For 2018-2019, CA’s Upper School will introduce:
- New Cross-Disciplinary Classes
- Performance Innovations (Art)
- Business Intelligence, SQL, and Data Visualization (Math)
- Multidisciplinary classes that will incorporate computer science and engineering within another subject
Inclusivity & Diversity Efforts
- Encouraged professional development in the field of Diversity and Inclusion;
- Launched new Diversity & Inclusion Group (DIG) to help facilitate ongoing skill development of cultural competency;
- Led or attended (by students and faculty) five diversity and inclusion conferences in 2017-2018;
- Continued school membership in the Colorado Diversity Network which sponsored a Career Fair to Promote Diversity in Education.
- 110 students participating in 2017-2018; 20 percent receive some financial aid
- 19 Outdoor Program trips
- 32 Upper School Interim Offerings
- 14 Middle School Interim Offerings
- New Field House opened;
- Ice Hockey returned with 28 players in the program; moves from sub-varsity this year to varsity next year;
- Numerous individual athletic achievements;
- Record interest in girls swimming and diving team;
- Boys Tennis took home the 2nd place trophy in the 4A state tournament;
- Boys soccer played in the 3A State Championship game this year and took home the 2nd place trophy;
- Record number of fall and winter athletes who competed for CA;
- Increased offerings for students in middle and lower grades.
- Launched an Upper School Orchestra Program;
- Added advanced guitar teacher and additional violin instructor;
- Continued to provide variety of art and dance electives for students;
- Staged four US productions, two MS productions (one on campus and one outreach children’s theater production), and three LS productions combining music with theater;
- Enhanced studio arts curriculum with courses in Architecture and AP 2D Studio Art;
- Introduced sculpture into MS with the goal of developing a more expressed 3D course of study.
College Matriculation by the Numbers
(as of February 1, 2018)
- 89 percent of CA’s seniors had at least one acceptance in hand;
- 93 percent of CA students had filed at least one early application (ED or EA). Of those, 63 percent were early admits;
- Among the many schools to which students have already committed next year: Bates, Brown, Chapman, Colgate, Colorado College, Connecticut College, Harvard, Kenyon, NYU, Tufts, Washington University, Williams, William & Mary;
- 16 members of CA’s senior class are recruited student athletes. (6 Division I, and the remaining Division III);
- 176 = Number of college admission reps that visited CA this year (a new record!). There are only 101 seniors.
Through each division, CA continues to emphasize character education, the development of 21st century skills (the 6 C’s), and building both a student and adult community that is based on courage, kindness, and integrity. Though more difficult to quantify, CA’s culture is frequently cited as a reason by students who choose to come to CA. CA’s ongoing efforts around health, wellness, and student support help set the tone for community interaction.