Grand Valley High School is located on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, in a small town called Parachute. The high school has built a robustly integrated system of high expectations, challenging curriculum, universal access, and strong supports. It includes an AP-for-all approach, but this is just the start.
The school had few truly challenging classes in years past, so it turned to Advanced Placement courses as a way to put in place a consistent and rigorous curriculum. This curriculum was then combined with strong teacher development and leadership, including a mentor system, regular observations and feedback, and professional learning communities. In order to carefully monitor student success and address student needs, Grand Valley also integrates the school’s response-to-intervention (RTI) protocol and advisory system (every student has an advisor and meets with the advisor for at least 30 minutes a day).
Principal Ryan Frink described the school’s philosophy as follows:
Each student comes into a class with varying skill levels; it is our duty to find the entry point for all students and provide them the opportunity to grow their skills around central concepts. This is what we call a growth mindset. The students are provided feedback in two major categories: content and responsibility. This provides a more accurate view of the student to the educators, so we can begin to recognize if there are deficiencies in their knowledge or the behaviors towards reaching their goals. Our team of educators uses this information to meet as a group, via RTI, and discuss what students need to be more successful. This essentially creates individual educational plans for every student with the mindset that we can all get better. The overarching goal is to send kids from GVHS into a community in which they desire to live with the mindset to accept responsibility, reject passivity, lead courageously, and expect the greater reward.