Challenge School is a magnet school in Cherry Creek School District charged with the mission of meeting the needs of academically advanced and motivated students. Any student in the district may apply to Challenge. The purpose of the admissions process is to select students who demonstrate advanced academic achievement in math and/or language arts and possess the attributes that reflect the school mission and purpose.
Before You Apply
Visiting Challenge School:
The best way to learn about Challenge School is to attend one of the tours held on various weekday mornings at 9:00 A.M. starting in October. Please call the main office (720) 747-2100 to book your tour. Please note, the tours and information meeting are for adults only.
New Student Handbook
While doing your research about Challenge, you may find it helpful to read the New Student Handbook that was given to admitted students last spring. In it you can find information about the school day and academic expectations for Challenge students.
What criteria are used to qualify students?
In order to be considered for admission, a student's achievement and motivation are evaluated based on, but not limited to, the following information:
- Standardized testing
- Teacher recommendations
- Report cards
- Demonstrated academic performance in the classroom
Applications will be accepted for students applying for the next grade level above their current grade. Applicants may not apply to repeat a grade, whether coming from a public or private school.
Are admissions competitive?
The Challenge School admissions procedure is meant to include students in the program rather than be exclusive. However, our student body is less than 1% of Cherry Creek School District's enrollment in grades K-8. The Challenge School admissions policy does not attempt to siphon off the top 1% of Cherry Creek students, but to draw broadly from approximately the top 25%. We regret any time we have to tell a qualified applicant that we do not have space for them. If our admissions policy seems complex, please understand that we are trying to offer our limited spaces in a way that is fair and brings us students who best match the program.
How are applications evaluated?
Each completed application is evaluated for academic and motivational criteria. Students must meet minimum criteria in the following four categories to be considered for admittance:
- Advanced levels of achievement in reading, writing, and/or mathematics.
- Cognitive scores
- Learner dispositions
Upon evaluation of the application, students are designated one of three qualification levels:
- Highly-qualified: This group meets all four of the criteria standards for entrance. These students will have first priority in admissions and will comprise approximately 80% of each class.
- Qualified: This group meets three of the four criteria standards for entrance. These students will comprise approximately 20% of each class.
- Non-qualified: This group meets two or fewer of the four criteria standards for entrance.
In situations where there are more qualified candidates than spaces available, applicants will be selected to balance and reflect the demographics of the Cherry Creek School District. The remaining qualified applicants are placed in a waiting pool. There is no ranking within a waiting pool.
Are there special preferences for siblings?
Once the applications have been reviewed to determine the pool of highly-qualified and qualified students, the following priorities apply in selection:
|Priority||Highly qualified (80% of class)|
Qualified (20% of class)
Highly-qualified siblings of current
Challenge School students
Qualified siblings of current Challenge
|2||Highly-qualified applicants||Qualified applicants|
Residents applicants only
We do not accept applications from out-of-district students. If you are not currently enrolled in Cherry Creek Schools, we require that all applicants submit proof of residence in Cherry Creek School District by mailing a copy of your current gas/electric bill (Xcel or IREA) after you submit your online application.
Is there a fee to apply?
There is a $30 application fee to cover expenses of processing applications. This fee will be waived for families who submit verification that they qualify for the free and reduced lunch program.
Ready to Apply?
Applications are accepted online only between noon on November 1, 2017 and midnight on January 17, 2018. Only applications received on or before midnight on January 17, 2018 are considered in forming our initial class lists and our waiting pools for fall admissions. Among applications received on or before January 17, 2018, there is no preference based on the date of receipt.
Applications are due by midnight on Wednesday, January 17, 2018. Applications submitted after this deadline will not be considered.
The $30 application fee may be submitted by mailing a check to Challenge School using the cover letter or by paying online. Free and reduced lunch qualification letters must be mailed to Challenge in order to waive the application fee.
Beginning the Application Process:
The application requires the following:
- Applicant Information
- If your child or his/her sibling is already attending a school in CCSD, most of this information will be pre-populated.
- Proof of residency
- If your child is not already enrolled in a Cherry Creek school, you must submit a copy of your current gas/electric bill (Xcel or IREA).
- Teacher Recommendation Form
- This is completed online by the applicant's current teacher. You will need to provide the name and email address of the teacher.
- If the applicant has different teachers for Literacy and Mathematics, two recommendations will be required, one from each teacher.
- Completed recommendation forms are sent directly to Challenge School. Parents will not be able to view the completed recommendation.
- A sample of the recommendation form is provided here for your reference only.
- Family Service Requirement Agreement
- Click here to review the agreement. You will be asked to acknowledge that you agree during the application process.
- Parent Questionnaire
- Answer the following questions online:
- What adjectives or phrases come to mind when describing your child?
- In what ways does your child demonstrate self-motivation to learn?
- In what ways does your child best learn?
- Are there any particular academic and/or social needs of which we should be aware?
- In what ways were these needs met in the past?
- Assessment data for students applying for grades 5 – 8
- If your child completed PARCC assessments in any Cherry Creek school, that data will be provided to us.
- If your child completed Reading, Writing, and Math standardized assessments (PARCC or another state's assessment) in a school outside of Cherry Creek, copies of those assessments must be mailed to Challenge by the application deadline.
- Report cards for student applying for grades 1 - 8
- We require the first trimester/quarter report cards from this school year.
- If your child is attending a school within Cherry Creek, the report cards will be provided to us.
- If your child is attending a school outside of Cherry Creek, a copy of the report card must be mailed to Challenge by the application deadline.
If you need to mail report cards, assessment results, and/or proof of residency, please include this cover letter.
Once your application has been received, a testing date may be assigned to your student based on the grade level for which your child is applying.
- Kindergarten: Students applying for kindergarten are required to attend a screening assessment on February 1 or 2, 2018. The screening lasts approximately 40 minutes and evaluates current levels of academic performance and thinking. Times will be assigned and emailed to parents by January 26, 2018.
- Grades 1 – 3: CogAT testing for all students applying for grades 1 – 2 and students applying for 3rd grade who are not currently attending a Cherry Creek District school will be held in the morning on Saturday, February 3, 2018. Students needing testing will be notified by email by January 26, 2018.
- Please note that our process only allows children to take the CogAT test every other year. If your child was tested last year you may apply again, but your child will not be tested again this year. If your child took the CogAT somewhere else in the past year, please provide that information with your application.
- No testing is required for students applying for 4th - 8th grades.
After the application
Who decides which students are admitted?
A task force of the Challenge School faculty is given the responsibilities of evaluating applications and selecting students for admission.
Acceptance decisions will be made by the end of February. Parents will be notified by US Mail.
Might my child be placed in a wait pool?
Applicants who qualified but were not selected during the process in February are placed into wait pools. We maintain a wait pool for each grade and each category of admissions. We may have openings after the initial selection of a class list. For example, families might decide that the commute to Challenge is not feasible, or they may move out-of-district between the February admissions process and the start of school in August. If your student is selected from the wait pool, we will contact you immediately.
Please understand, no applicant has priority over another just because the application was received earlier. Applicants do not have positions within a wait pool. Students in a wait pool who wish to apply for any openings in the subsequent year will need to reapply in order to be considered.