September 8, 2015
Mr. Chairman and Members of the State Board of Education,
As a coalition of business leaders, Colorado Succeeds is committed to ensuring that Colorado’s kids are prepared for Colorado’s jobs. We recognize that a quality education system is imperative for a prepared workforce, foundational for a prosperous economy, and vital for our students’ futures. We have grave concerns about recent attempts to weaken the state’s high school graduation guidelines and urge you to carefully consider the dire consequences associated with lowering expectations for students in a time when the economy is demanding more from them.
By 2020, three-quarters of Colorado’s jobs will require something more than a high school diploma. Right now, only about one-quarter of Colorado’s students are attaining this level of education. An alarming number of students fail to get the training they need to succeed and are leaving the K-12 education system unprepared, as evidenced by Colorado’s 34% remediation rate.
A high school diploma needs to mean more than a certificate in good attendance. Colorado’s graduation guidelines are an important tool to ensure that a high school diploma signals that students are ready for their next step. These graduation guidelines are not “one-size-fits all,” but rather, a flexible menu of options for districts to choose from, including a locally-developed capstone project option that each district can tailor to meet their community’s unique needs.
Colorado’s graduation guidelines help put the state on a course toward a more personalized, skills-focused learning system. These guidelines enable students to progress upon mastery of skills and content, rather than seat time, and ensure they exit the education system prepared for college or career.
We recognize that it may be easier or more convenient to eliminate or water down these more rigorous requirements. While maintaining high expectations for Colorado’s high school graduates is difficult work, it is a necessary step toward improvement. The vitality of our economy rests on the ability of our education system to produce a competent workforce and students desperately need honest measures of their skills and knowledge as they enter the real world. We hope that you choose to maintain and strengthen Colorado’s graduation guidelines.
The Colorado Succeeds Board of Directors