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Increasing Access To High-Quality Credentials

Concerning increasing access in high school to high-quality credentials within the career development success program, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
2021 Regular Session
Education & School Finance (Pre & K-12)
Bill Summary

The career development success program provides financial incentives for participating school districts and participating charter schools to encourage pupils enrolled in grades 9 through 12 to enroll in and successfully complete qualified industry-credential programs; qualified internship, residency, or construction industry pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship programs; and qualified advanced placement courses (programs and courses). The act amends the list of qualified programs by removing residency programs and expanding pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to include any industry program, not just construction industry programs.

The act expands the definition of a qualified industry-credential program to include a career and technical education program that, upon completion, results in an industry-recognized credential with labor market value aligned with a high-skill, high-wage, in-demand job.

Current law requires the work force development council (council) to identify the qualified programs and courses by identifying the jobs included in the Colorado talent report with the greatest regional and state demand, including jobs in in-demand industries. The act requires the council to consult with relevant industries to identify the programs and courses by identifying high-skill, high-wage jobs in in-demand industries that have labor market value. Any programs and courses the council determines do not demonstrate labor market value may be removed from the council's website.

Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, and each school year thereafter, the department of education (department), in coordination with the department of labor and employment, the department of higher education, the Colorado community college system, and employers from in-demand industries, shall identify the top 10 industry-recognized credentials that may be awarded to high school students. For each identified credential, the department shall specify how the courses taken to earn the credential align with the state academic standards.

The act requires each participating school district, each nonparticipating school district on behalf of its participating charter schools, and the state charter school institute on behalf of each participating institute charter school to report to the department the total number of pupils who successfully complete a program or course, disaggregated by each student's race, ethnicity, and gender, and whether each student is a student with a disability, an English language learner, or eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Current law requires each participating school district and each participating charter school to regularly communicate to all high school students the availability of programs and courses and the benefits a student receives as a result of successfully completing one of the programs or courses. The act expands this requirement to all middle school students and the students' families.

The act requires each participating school district and each participating charter school to communicate how industry-recognized credentials and guaranteed-transfer pathways courses that are included in such credentials are aligned with postsecondary degrees and high-skill, high-wage, in-demand jobs, and the top 10 industry-recognized credentials identified by the department. The communications must be provided in a language that the students and the students' families understand.

The act updates the department's annual reporting requirements to the general assembly to include:

  • Whether the students participating in the programs and courses enlisted in the military or entered the workforce after graduation;
  • How money received under the career development success program was used to promote the availability of programs and courses; and
  • How the participating school district or participating charter school determined which programs and courses to offer, including how the programs and courses are aligned with local workforce needs.

No later than July 1, 2022, the department, in collaboration with the Colorado community college system, shall publish and disseminate materials through existing and relevant platforms used to engage with districts that include, at a minimum, the top 10 industry-recognized credentials and a sample communications plan for how a participating school district or participating charter school may communicate the value of credentials and experiences to students and families.

The act requires participating school districts and participating charter schools to utilize program funding to promote access to programs and courses.

The act requires the return on investment report to include information specifically identifying the number of high school students enrolled and the number of degrees and certificates awarded through the career development success program.

The act appropriates $20,000 from the general fund to the department of education to implement the act.

(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)


Became Law


Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details