The Clear Creek School District has some work to do regarding student instruction.

Superintendent Karen Quanbeck told the school board on Nov. 30 that the district needed to focus on deeper learning to better engage students and to meet or exceed the Colorado Academic Standards. Teaching concepts the first time needs to do the job, so students need fewer interventions, she said.

She pointed to standardized testing data, which she reminded the board is only one way of measuring student learning, that shows student achievement is not where should be in English/language arts and math. She said statewide and in Clear Creek, CMAS test scores declined since the pandemic started.

Students who learned remotely during the pandemic declined the most in their test scores, she added.

The school board will have a more in-depth discussion on student instruction at its next board study session at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 13. The public may attend the meeting virtually, and the link will be available on the agenda by Jan. 12. It can be found on the district website,

Quanbeck said it’s also apparent that students are experiencing more mental-health issues in large part thanks to the uncertainty of the pandemic, and school personnel must help students with those issues before learning can take place.

“All of our kids, especially at the secondary level, were significantly impacted with anxiety and stress around unpredictability,” Quanbeck said. “We continue to be surprised by the level of mental health needs.”

Quanbeck said the standardized test data for the district has been interesting to study.

“The point I want to make,” Quanbeck told the school board, “that has intrigued me as a superintendent is we have been hot and cold as a district in terms of test scores. Some years have been great, while some years not great. What that told me is there are deeper things going on.”

She attributed some of the changes to high teacher turnover and changes in district leadership. Teachers, she explained, say the district hasn’t had curriculum that builds upon learning at each grade level.

“We haven’t engaged kids at the deepest level,” she said. “We have done well with kids going to college but less well with others. We are not consistently growing kids the way we need to grow them when you look at CMAS, SAT and PSAT scores.”