A stylized letter "G" split horizontally with the upper half in green and the lower half in navy blue.
El Paso County Colorado District 49

GOAL High School takes pride in its 100% goal

By Deb Risden

GOAL High School is a statewide alternative high school serving 6,000 students in an online learning environment. The school has been sponsored by El Paso School District 49 for about eight years. GOAL is the largest school in the state of Colorado.

GOAL started as a brick-and-mortar charter school in 2008 and has evolved to all online classes. There are 40 drop-in locations throughout the state where a staff of 650 teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators work.

“GOAL is a school that has leveraged the powerful parts of education and wrapped it in a package that allows for flexibility and 21st century skills you don’t find in brick-and-mortar public schools.”

Alan Van Norman, Director of Communications

Alan Van Norman, director of communications, said, “GOAL is a school that has leveraged the powerful parts of education and wrapped it in a package that allows for flexibility and 21st century skills you don’t find in brick-and-mortar public schools. Our staff understands how to build an engaging learning environment in an online space. It’s an acquired skill and takes time to hone.”

GOAL’s experience in effectively teaching online was helpful to traditional district schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, when they were able to provide in-service training to teachers who were required to teach remotely.

GOAL students come from all walks of life. Van Norman said many feel disenfranchised with their experience in their local school district and have considered dropping out. Others might have nontraditional life circumstances — they work to help support their families, run their own businesses, are young parents or work the rodeo circuit. “We don’t see them as a bad kid or a problem kid, and they see we stick around and we’re not going to give up on them,” Van Norman said.

To develop productive members of society is the mission of GOAL. “We work with 100% ideology with every student to ensure that they graduate with a certificate showing they are ready for the workforce, or ready for a post-secondary education,” Van Norman said. “It’s so easy to have a classroom full of students and look at them and say 90% will graduate, 20% will go to college and 5% will get straight A’s. We look at that group of students and our goal is 100% (of students) get straight A’s, 100% will graduate and 100% will get a chance to take a college class before they graduate.”

That ideology is carried out at all levels of the school. Academic coaches at GOAL carry a caseload of 30 students. They address barriers to ensure students are attending classes and getting their classwork done on time. Van Norman said coaches also communicate with parents about student progress and coordinate with social workers, counselors, assistant principals and counseling assistants in order to ensure student success.

The school offers almost everything a traditional school provides — and then some.

GOAL partners with more than 30 colleges and universities around the state to offer concurrent college enrollment. The school is anticipating eight of the 1,300 2024 graduating seniors will have earned associate degrees when they leave GOAL. Van Norman said they offer programs in nursing, cosmetology and other skilled trades.

A work-based learning liaison program is part of the academy as well. Paraprofessionals work with students who either have or want a job. The liaisons work with businesses to help students become gainfully employed and ensure the skills they possess are appropriate for the job, and that they are advancing in the job. “Our programming is dedicated to trying to fill the gaps for specific needs in the communities,” Van Norman said. “Some communities need industrial workers, some might need agricultural workers. We build a career pathway that matches the community the student lives in and build that into their programming.” Paid internships are also available.

GOAL offers special education, gifted and talented and English language learner programs. The school has proms, homecoming dances, field trips and other social activities.

Although they don’t have traditional sports such as football, basketball and gymnastics, the school offers eSports programs, which is made up of competitive video games, all sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association. Students can earn college scholarships for video gaming.

GOAL is a Microsoft Showcase school, which enables them to provide laptops to every student as well as a T-mobile hotspot for internet access. “Some students don’t have internet or reliable internet. Or they’re mobile and need access at their workplaces,” Van Norman said.

Through D 49, GOAL receives state funding at a negotiated rate based on the state average. Van Norman said they can focus more dollars on the student because they don’t have the same types of expenses as a brick-and-mortar school, such as maintaining large buildings, paying groundskeepers and lunch personnel.

Van Norman said D 49 has been supportive of GOAL. “They are great champions in making sure we have everything we need and in working with us on all our improvement strategies. We enjoy bringing our GOAL leaders up in licensure. For example, if a teacher wants to become licensed as a principal or maybe a dean, D 49 assists in providing some professional development.”

A group of graduates in caps and gowns sit in rows, smiling and holding diplomas, during a ceremony in an indoor venue.

Peter Hilts, D 49 superintendent, said some GOAL students take longer than four years to graduate. The Colorado Department of Education includes GOAL graduation rates in the overall D 49 rates, which substantially reduces the published district graduation rates. “Our schools graduate well above district average; they are above 90%. By including GOAL, we understand we are going to be subject to criticism. It’s worth doing it when I see a young man walk across the stage carrying his baby. That’s a baby that didn’t get abandoned and given up on because that young man wasn’t given up on,” Hilts said.

“I came to GOAL Academy with basically zero credits having just been expelled, but still they gave me another opportunity to succeed,” said Isaiah Gonzales, a 2019 Colorado Springs graduate of GOAL. “Because they gave me another shot, I felt I needed to return the favor by giving them my very, very best. I gave it everything I had: all my time, all my energy. It was frustrating at times, but I pushed through it.”

 It is not uncommon to see a grandparent receive a diploma at graduation because GOAL has a free GED program for a parent of any enrolled child, Hilts said.  

“We are passionate about our students and we work to remove barriers and provide a wide spectrum of opportunities,” Van Norman said. “We’ve had Boettcher scholarship recipients and we’ve had students thrilled to graduate with a diploma and become productive members of the community they grew up in.” Van Norman said one of their graduates came to GOAL as a sophomore after being bullied for having a cleft lip. He wrote a children’s book about being different and is now a published author.

GOAL High School has a walk-in facility in Falcon on the Patriot High School Campus at 11990 Swingline Road.

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Weather Cams by StratusIQ

Search Advertisers