Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Legislation passed in 2007 to change high school graduation requirements is maturing this year with hope of improving college remediation numbers.
On Tuesday, the Valley Superintendents Advisory Council (SAC) heard about the changes and the implementation timeline from the Colorado Department of Education Assistant Commissioner of Standards and Assessment Jo O’Brien.
State statute requires the State Board of Education to adopt a set of guidelines for high school graduation by May 2013. Districts will have the 2013-14 school year to adopt local graduation requirements, which they will be required to implement with the ninth grade class of 2014-15 for their graduation in 2018, according to CDE. Local school boards may use their own locally developed graduation requirements if they “meet or exceed” any minimum standards or core competencies and skills the State Board adopts. The law outlines several considerations the State Board uses when adopting a set of guidelines including:
•Alignment with the description of postsecondary and workforce readiness •Alignment with postsecondary academic admission standards
•Recognition of multiple and diverse pathways to a diploma
•Articulation through a standards-based education system
•Attainment of skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century
•Importance of academic and career planning
“Colorado is the last state in the nation without graduation policy,” O’Brien said. “This is total local control. It’s not something you have to do.”
Since the bill passed six years, O’Brien said districts have been busy working to meet the state’s requirements. The districts’ actions include adopting content standards; developing postsecondary and workforce definitions and programs; implementing Individual and Career Academic plans (ICAP); and establishing criteria for an endorsed high school diploma allowing for automatic entry into a moderately selective Colorado institution of higher education.
Should the course continue to follow its path, on or before December 15, 2013, each student enrolled in a public high school will “enroll in and successfully complete a postsecondary and workforce readiness program,” according to CDE. Special education students are an exception, and each high school student’s final transcript will describe the student’s level of postsecondary and workforce readiness.
Additionally, O’Brien said the Colorado Department of Higher Education has established task forces to create new remediation policies and admission requirements reflecting the amended high school diploma.
“They (the state) want more kids to think of themselves as college ready,” O’Brien said. “It is a brand promise on a diploma thatgives graduates the ability to go into the armed force or college remediation free.”
According to an Ed News Colorado report, the state’s college remediation rates rose in 2010-11, but retention rates increased for students enrolled in remedial classes. The report credited a portion of the increase to more students enrolling in higher education, which grew 5.6 percent from 2009-10 to 2010-11, roughly 14,000 students.
For four-year institutions, the Valley’s Adams State University had the highest remediation rates in the state at 56.8 percent, down from 67 percent three years ago, according to the report. Throughout the state, a third of students required remedial math instruction, with a lesser number requiring writing and reading. Ed News Colorado data revealed this has been the trend since at least 2002.
Aiming to lower the remediation numbers, O’Brien said a combination of a “meaningful” high school diploma focusing on student ownership and flexibility would develop graduates that can demonstrate “proficiency as evidenced by no need for remediation, proficiency in 21st century skill and sufficient completion of the ICAP.”
“Flexibility is exploring multiple ways to see if a student is ready,” O’Brien said. “21st century learning is getting away from tests and using applications in the real world.”
In regards to the ICAP requirements that CDE designed to decrease dropout rates and increase graduation rates through student plans ensuring readiness for postsecondary and workforce success,” the SAC expressed concern over resources and time.
“Our capacity is not there, but our appetite is,” said Monte Vista Superintendent Rob Webb. “We need more people.”
Center Consolidated School District Superintendent George Welsh added, “I think we all see its value... We are stressed on resources to be able to put it in.”
Colorado remediation data
• The percentage of first-time high school graduates placed into at least one remedial course was 31.8 percent, up from 28.6 percent in 2009-10. The largest number of students needed remediation in math.
• The remediation rate for community colleges was 58.2 percent and 20.5 percent at four-year schools. (Students are counted as needing remediation of they require a basic skills class in one subject – math, reading or writing.)
• Some 57 percent of adult students (those over age 20) required remediation in at least one subject.
• Only 57.7 percent of students who needed remediation continued for a second year in college, compared to 75.2 percent of all recent high school graduates. The retention rate for remedial students has increased from 51.9 percent in 2005-06.
• White, non-Hispanic students have the lowest remediation rates while black students had the highest. Women had a slightly higher remediation rate than did men.
• Remedial education costs the state $22 million a year and costs students $24 million.
-Data courtesy of Colorado Ed News