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New Graduation Requirements for the Class of 2021 and Beyond

What does it mean to have a high school diploma?

Life beyond high school is different from what it used to be. Over 74% of jobs in Colorado now and in the future require training or education beyond high school.  Students who graduate and work in Colorado will need real-world skills to secure employment.

To help ensure that high school graduates in Colorado are able to meet the new academic expectations of the workforce, the state board of education adopted graduation guidelines in September 2015.  The guidelines include a menu of college and career-ready demonstrations, in addition to the WPS Graduation Requirements. These added requirements will start with the class of 2021.

In response, the WPS School Board formally adopted a menu of options for the students of our district. These options provide multiple ways students can demonstrate they are ready for graduation. Beginning with next year’s 11th graders, all students will need to meet these benchmarks in order to graduate from high school.

The new graduation guidelines serve two purposes: the first is to solidify Colorado’s shared beliefs about the value and meaning of a high school diploma. The second is to outline the minimum components, expectations and responsibilities of educators to support students in earning their high school diploma.  Student active participation in meeting these levels of work is essential and should tie with their long-term career plan they have been creating since level 6.

What do these changes mean for the class of 2021 and beyond?

It means all high school graduates must complete the required 22 credits of high school level work required by the district. Students begin creating a Future Plan in level 8 to meet these credit requirements. The courses may change over the time a student is in high school, but counselors work with each student every year to make sure that the required courses and credits are scheduled to be taken in time for graduation and align with each student’s Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP). 

In addition to those credits, students must also demonstrate a minimum level of proficiency in language arts and math that meets the state board of education established level or score before being allowed to graduate.  Students can demonstrate this level of academic skill at any time while in high school, but they must demonstrate this skill in both of these areas before the completion of their senior year.

Ways students can demonstrate they are at the proper academic level for graduation include earning an SAT score of 470 or above in English language arts and a 500 in math.  Students could also successfully pass a college level course (Concurrent Enrollment is a college course taken while in high school that helps students prepare for a career goal and could include a career and technical education focus).  In fact, simply passing the college placement test (ACCUPLACER) would qualify if a student earns at least a 241 on Reading, a 236 on Writing, a 255 on Arithmetic or a 230 on Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra or Statistics.  In addition to various tests, students can also earn an industry certification through Career and Technical Education classes or complete a capstone project (expanded project to exhibit academic and intellectual learning and serve as a portfolio of student achievement toward a career goal). 

Where can we get help?

See a complete list of ways students can demonstrate proficiency in English language arts and math here on the Future Center website. 

WPS is committed to working with all students to support the ways that students want to use to demonstrate graduation readiness. As parents and guardians, it is critical that you also support this work in order to ensure an on-time graduation. Come speak with a Future Center counselor or the school counselor for your student to learn more.