The foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains

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The Catalina Foothills School District (CFSD) provides comprehensive and rigorous academic programs that are recognized nationally for preparing students well for postsecondary education. From early childhood through high school graduation, CFSD's wide array of programs and learning experiences equip every student with the necessary knowledge and skills to meet the challenges and opportunities in a global society.

While academics are at the core of a comprehensive education, CFSD also embraces the obligation to graduate students who are self-regulated and have the skill-set for lifelong learning. This set of skills - the capacity to see problems in new ways, think critically, design innovative solutions, and collaborate and communicate in diverse settings – enables our students to engage in deeper learning; that is, to go beyond the mastery of content knowledge to applying what is learned and transferring it to new situations or contexts. All CFSD students engage in ongoing skill building, which includes Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Citizenship, Creativity and Innovation, Collaboration, Communication, and Systems Thinking. CFSD refers to these skills or competencies as “deep learning proficiencies” (DLPs). We are committed to fully engaging students in their learning and evaluating program results to ensure they move on from their PreK-12 education confident that they are well prepared to flourish in future studies, careers, and in life.

Elementary students

Middle school student

High school students


CFSD Envision 21 logo

CFSD Nationally Recognized for Innovative Learning

P21, a network of Battelle for Kids that advocates for 21st century learning for every student, designated CFSD as an exemplar school district as part of a nationwide initiative identifying models of exemplary 21st century learning practices across the United States. CFSD was the first district in Arizona to earn the exemplar designation from P21. Learn more about the Exemplar Program.

CFSD has been implementing a long-term systemic plan to bring the concept of 21st century teaching and learning to scale. Collectively, educators, students, parents, and the larger community contribute to the daily successes and opportunities that empower our students to think, create, lead, and make change. Learn more about CFSD's journey - from the establishment of the vision for 21st century education to the current work focus.

Enjoy the spotlight video features of our students and teachers at the link below.

CFSD Spotlight Videos

Expert Resource Program. CFSD initiated an Expert Resource Program to connect students to experts in the real world on current issues and topics around the globe. What makes this program unique is the experts are former CFSD students who have expertise that can be tapped and shared with students. Engaging with experts during the learning process is one strategy for developing deep content knowledge and applying it to tasks and situations outside of the school.

The Four C's: Making 21st Century Education Happen features educational leaders from Envision Schools (California), Catalina Foothills School District (Arizona) and Virginia Beach City Public Schools (Virginia). Each school profile focuses on a unique aspect of how 21st century skills can help prepare students for college or a career. This film highlights both the student perspective, as well as how educators are using the 4 C's to create a collaborative environment. A presentation of EdLeader21 [] and the Pearson Foundation []. Published on April 16, 2012.

Assessing the Four C's: The Power of Rubrics is a companion film to The Four C's: Making 21st Century Education Happen and explores the special efforts three school districts (Envision Schools [California], Catalina Foothills School District [Arizona] and Virginia Beach City Public Schools [Virginia]) made to use rubrics to assess 21st century student outcomes. These rubrics help teachers specifically define each of the 4 C's and make them more transparent to students and parents. A presentation of EdLeader21 [] and the Pearson Foundation []. Published on April 17, 2012.

The Pearson Foundation and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning feature the Catalina Foothills School District's "Making Learning Relevant: The Hydrology Project" video as an example of how a focus on 21st century skills and education is affecting change in our nation's classrooms?

Profile of a CFSD Graduate Video

The "Profile of a CFSD Graduate" is a collective vision that articulates the district's aspirations for all students. It reflects the qualities that make our graduates unique and prepared for success in a competitive world. We are excited to show you what this educational experience looks like in action.

How does CFSD make this work visible?

CFSD focuses on learning for transfer and the development of six "deep learning proficiencies" (DLPs), in addition to the academic knowledge and skills expected of all CFSD students. Every PreK-12 student is provided with multiple opportunities to demonstrate growth toward appropriately challenging learning goals, and to transfer their learning by addressing novel or non-routine tasks and problems.

Transfer Goals highlight the effective uses of understanding, knowledge, and skill that we seek in the long run; i.e., what we want students to be able to do when they confront new challenges - both inside and outside of school. CFSD created a small number of overarching, long term transfer goals in each subject area and for each deep learning proficiency. These goals are some of the most important long-term performance outcomes for our students.

CFSD Disciplinary Transfer Goals (PDF)  Text Version (PDF)

CFSD DLP Transfer Goals (PDF) Text Version (PDF)

CFSD's six "deep learning proficiencies" are Citizenship, Communication, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Collaboration, Creativity and Innovation, and Systems Thinking. The district developed a set of rubrics (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) for each "proficiency" with specific performance areas and indicators that are used for teaching and measuring the development of these skills. The rubrics provide a common vocabulary and a continuum of performance across grades K-12.