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Academic Rigor: What it is and What We Are Doing About It
Dr. Tony Byrd

There is no shortage of questions about student academic performance in the United States, Colorado, and the Summit School School District. As data rolls in nationwide, families understandably worry about their children's preparation for a rapidly changing, complicated world. As a parent with two children in college myself, I understand the worry.  

Academic rigor for each and every student is a tremendous priority for us, and you need to know that directly from me.  

Here is how we define rigor:

  • Each and every student is challenged to stretch their learning beyond what may seem possible at first;

  • Each and every student experiences high expectations coupled with continued support at their "just-right" level;

  • The assumption is all students have talent and potential, and it is our job to see it, recognize it, and support their growth;

  • In a rigorous environment, each student produces very high levels of learning.

Many of our students are experiencing these environments and are having success. As we continue to build a culture of academic excellence at SSD, It is our responsibility to unearth the potential of every student and drive growth in our learning environments so that students grow up to become entrepreneurs, professionals and skilled workers of the future. 

Here are a range of things we are doing to support academic growth system-wide:

  • Working diligently to ensure standards-based instruction in our classrooms;

  • Providing professional development for teachers by focusing on "Tier 1/Best First Instruction."

  • Supporting the development of our principals as instructional leaders through bi-weekly training;

  • Dramatically ramping up our time in classrooms, analyzing what the students are doing, what the teachers are doing, and the rigor of the tasks. (We have already conducted over 150 classroom observations this year - including many from myself).

  • Implementing a new math curriculum across our elementary grades;

  • Conducting Dyslexia risk assessment and identifying the need for other literacy support needs (those who fall at or below the 25th percentile in reading);

  • Launching a high-impact intervention program at Upper Blue, Silverthorne and Dillon Valley; 

  • Implementing a new English Language Development (ELD) curriculum for our language learners;

  • Routinely analyzing data to adjust our instructional practices;

  • And much, much more.

The world is evolving, and so are we. At Summit School District, we stand at the intersection of tradition and innovation. Our commitment is unwavering, and our vision is clear: academic and personal success for every student.  

If you ever have any questions about these efforts, please do not hesitate to ask your teacher, school staff, principal, and/or me directly. We are thrilled to be working with your children.


Thank you, 

Summit School District SuperIntendent, Dr. Tony Byrd