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Colorado Graduation Provisions for Students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs)

The information and links below provide information on graduation provisions for students with individual education programs.

 

Regular High School Diploma in Colorado

Colorado's Graduation Guidelines outline the minimum components, expectations, and responsibilities of the state and local LEPs to support students in attaining their high school diploma. To graduate from a Colorado high school, students must demonstrate Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) through one measure in English and one in math on the Graduation Guidelines Menu of College and Career-Ready Demonstrations. The Colorado Graduation Guidelines are in effect for students beginning high school in the 2017-2018 school year.

Regardless of which graduation option a student with an IEP may select or whether the coursework is aligned with the Colorado Academic Standards or the Extended Evidence Outcomes, an LEP may provide accommodations to enable the student receiving special education services to reach the same standard as students without disabilities. However, an LEP may not modify the standard any student must demonstrate in college or career readiness on the Graduation Guidelines Menu of Options in the areas of English or math. Further clarification on this issue can be found in the questions and answers section of this document. LEPs report the measure(s) by which each student from the class of 2021 has graduated, according to the Menu of Options. The 2019-2020 Student Interchange File for Graduation Guidelines is available now. LEPs will report for each student the college and career readiness demonstrations they have undertaken or met in both English and math.

Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) defines how graduation rates are calculated for federal accountability purposes. Under ESSA, students whose diplomas are aligned to the state's alternate achievement standards (called the Extended Evidence Outcomes or EEOs in Colorado) cannot be considered to have exited with a "regular diploma" and will not be counted as graduates for federal accountability purposes only.

Under ESSA, a regular high school diploma is defined as the diploma with which the majority of high school students within the state exit and that is not aligned to the state's alternate achievement standards. Each state must use the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) for calculating graduation rate for ESSA accountability purposes. ACGR is defined as the "cohort" of first-time ninth-graders in a particular school year. The cohort is then adjusted by adding any students who transfer into the cohort after 9th grade and subtracting any students who are verified as transferring out. The ACGR is the percentage of students in this adjusted cohort who graduate within 4 years with a regular high school diploma.

For ESSA accountability, Colorado uses both the 4-year ACGR and the 7-year extended graduation rates to identify schools for support and improvement.

House Bill 19-1066

H.B. 19-1066 amends Colorado statute regarding how state graduation rates are calculated for state accountability purposes. The statute requires that a student who is receiving special education services must be counted in a high school's graduation rate in the year that the student completes the graduation requirements. The bill makes clear that nothing within the legislation limits the right of a student who has met the local LEP's graduation requirements to continued access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) as provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Exceptional Children's Educational Act (ECEA), or any other federal or state law or rule. In short, a student receiving special education services must be counted as a graduate for state accountability purposes when he or she meets the local LEP's graduation requirements; however, the LEP's obligation to provide FAPE to the student is not terminated until the student exits with a regular high school diploma or no longer meets the age requirement for special education services. Students with IEPs ages 18-21 may access transition services through their LEP as determined by the student's IEP team. While these students may meet the minimum requirements for graduation in their LEPs, these students may have ongoing transition needs that require continued special education services. Further clarification on this issue can be found in the questions and answers section of this document.

Implications for High School Students Receiving Special Education Services

A student with an IEP who has not exited high school with a regular diploma is entitled to ongoing access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) that is reasonably calculated to enable the child to make appropriate progress in light of the child's individual circumstances. As a result, while a student receiving special education services may accrue the required credits and course work to meet a local LEP's graduation requirements, the LEP's obligation to provide FAPE remains until the student either exits with a regular high school diploma (as defined by ESSA) or reaches the age of 21.


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