Cardinal Academies

Are we preparing students with the career and skill sets needed for their future? In Crete, we are bringing together teachers, employers and community leaders, transforming our high school to make learning more meaningful and give students the skills they need to be ready for what comes next.

We call this transformation the Cardinal Academies Crete. The Cardinal Academies will provide all students with more of the advanced skills they need to be successful, productive citizens in college, career and life.

What Is An Academy?

A career academy is a small, safe and supportive learning environment that is contained within a larger high school setting. An academy has a career and college theme preparing students for both post-secondary schooling and work. Nationally, it has three major components:

  • A small learning community (SLC) is a group of students within the larger school that takes classes together and is taught by a team of teachers from different disciplines.

  • A career theme within a college prep curriculum enables students to see relationships and connections between academic subjects and their application to a broad field of work.

  • Community engagement includes partnerships with employers, the community and colleges, bringing resources from outside the high school to improve student motivation and achievement.

students in classroom

How Does Cardinal Academy Work?

As a part of the Cardinal Freshman Exploration Academy, all ninth-grade students will take Freshman Seminar. In this class, they will spend time discovering the different pathways we will offer. At the conclusion of their freshman year, they will list their top three choices and be assigned to a pathway to explore over the next three years. Pathways are like college majors; students choose which to pursue based on their interests.

During their sophomore, junior and senior years, students will explore learning opportunities and be immersed in college and career preparatory programs through a focused lens of instruction. At the conclusion of their final year, students will have developed a senior capstone project to culminate their pathway learning experiences.

What Are The Pathways?

What New Experiences Can Students Expect?

The district has developed a Continuum of Experiences for all students, regardless of academy or pathway. These are scheduled by grade:

What Are The Intended Outcomes?

Transition to the academies will result in: 

  • Increased graduation rates

  • Increased daily attendance rates

  • Increased student achievement

  • Students invested in the community

  • Fewer discipline incidents

  • Higher ACT scores

  • Improved teacher efficacy

This is aligned with the new Profile of a CPS Graduate.

What Is The Timeline?

The transition to the academy model is three years in the making and has involved a number of district staff, community leaders and students conducting hours of research and analysis to find the right solution for Crete.

  • March 2021 - Visited academy schools

  • November 2021 - NCAC Conference

  • December 2021 - School board presentation

  • January 2022 - Implementation team formed

  • August 2022 - Revision grant awarded

  • September 2022 - Partenered with Steele Dynamics

  • February 2023 - Student ambassadors selected

  • March 2023 - Kick off 8th graders & parents

  • August 2023 - Freshman Exploration Academy begins