- Last Wednesday, the Colorado State Board of Education approved a new set of graduation requirements that offer districts greater flexibility.
- The guidelines loosen the requirement that students demonstrate competency in four separate subjects, lowering the number to just two.
- Districts can also choose from a “menu” of options, including a suite of standardized tests, passing grades in college classes, and class projects.
High school graduation requirements have become a testing ground for more competency-based approaches and changes intended to only graduate students who are well-prepared for college and career. The shifts, which often include passing standardized tests like the ACT, have sparked worries that far fewer students will graduate.
In Colorado’s case, that became one of the sticking points for the previous guidelines, which only lasted two years (the first impacted class won’t graduate until 2021). But an NPR investigation also found that many schools and states post overblown graduation rates already.
Some schools in places like New York City are testing out project-based graduation standards, which could offer alternatives to high-stakes testing and encourage deeper learning. Colorado’s standards, which board members called a “floor, not a ceiling” for districts, offer room for similar standards.