Shakopee School Board

Shakopee School Board members (left to right): Joe Aldrich, Paul Christiansen, Kristi Peterson, Matt McKeand, Judi Tomczik, Reggie Bowerman and Angela Tucker.

The first year of college can be challenging for many students. The transition from high school to college can be daunting to some students. It’s a new routine with different expectations. It might possibly be a new environment in a different state.

Over 20 years ago, the Shakopee School Board approved and invested in a program College in the Schools that gives high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to get a sense of the expectations from college courses. In collaboration with the University of Minnesota, Shakopee students can earn college credits for free without leaving the high school.

Taking a U of M course through the CIS program is just like taking the same course on campus. Your grade will be recorded on an official U of M transcript, and you will be earning U of M credit that is recognized by many colleges and universities, coast to coast.

One of the important aspects of the CIS program is that it offers students a concurrent experience of both high school and college. Our high potential students are often looking for more of a challenge and by creating concurrent enrollment at Shakopee High School, we keep our students throughout the day and make it easier for them not to have to travel while also being able to take other electives offered. In addition, the CIS program gives our students the opportunity to continue being not only student leaders but also academic leaders.

During the 2017-2018 school year, 370 Shakopee students registered for CIS classes. Students registered for a total of 727 classes with 95% of the students earning a “C” or better grade. This equaled over 3,000 U of M credits earned just by our Shakopee students. As a result, Shakopee parents with students in this program saved over $1.4 million in college expenses. (The 2018-2019 school year information will be available in the fall of 2019.)

The experience students receive in CIS classes has helped them be more successful when entering college. Here are just a few of the many examples that our graduates have shared with Shakopee High School teacher Carmen Barbone:

  • One student went into college understanding the complexities of writing. Without the CIS University Writing class, this student would have struggled in all of the classes cross-curricular that required intensive writing.
  • Another student said because of the level of writing completed in the CIS Writing class, they were able to gain an internship during the summer after their freshman year of college. With their level of research writing, the company knew it would benefit them.
  • As a senior in high school, one student took the CIS Public Speaking class and found that it gave the student the ability to register ahead of peers and take advanced classes. Ultimately, this resulted in the individual graduating from college a semester early to begin her MBA.

Shakopee, which offers 11 courses in the CIS program, has the second most class offerings, next to Burnsville, in the state of Minnesota.

CIS is not the only way to earn college credits while in high school. Shakopee students can also earn college credits outside of the program through Advanced Placement classes and concurrent enrollment agreements with local community colleges.

While the success of this program is often measured by student’s success, we can’t overlook the benefits that the CIS program offers our educators. Shakopee teachers in this program gain valuable professional development which is what has made this program in Shakopee so successful. They also share their learnings on pertinent topics with our district staff by giving presentations during staff development days throughout the school year. Teachers in this program must meet the qualifications set by the post-secondary academic department and the Higher Learning Commission. In addition, teachers participate in faculty and staff-led workshops conducted by the University of Minnesota which gives them the opportunity to learn new ideas and continue to develop their academic discipline.

Teachers also gain a better understanding of the knowledge and skills that college faculty in their discipline expect of their students.

CIS is another great example of a program that would not be possible without our community’s support. As a result, Shakopee parents, students and high school teachers have all received benefits from it. We look forward to sharing updated program information from the 2018-2019 school year this Fall.

This column was submitted by school board members Joe Aldrich, Paul Christiansen, Kristi Peterson, Matt McKeand, Judi Tomczik, Reggie Bowerman and Angela Tucker.

South regional editor

Deena is the regional editor for Shakopee, Jordan, Prior Lake and Savage and is passionate about uncovering the truth. Deena also enjoys gardening, playing tennis and up-cycling furniture.


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