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Colorado's Endorsed Diploma Criteria


The Postsecondary Workforce Ready Endorsed Diploma work group has recommended to Colorado’s Departments of Education and Higher Education to suspend implementation of the endorsed diploma until reconsideration of the policy in the 2017-18 academic year or later. The work group, comprised of representatives from K-12, higher education, workforce, and industry has made this recommendation as a result of the following:

  • Policy misalignment with Colorado’s graduation guidelines

  • Cancelled implementation by the two pilot school districts.


    Other concerns were also discussed, including that an endorsement would not provide an absolute result for students applying to selective and highly selective institutions under the new statewide Admission Policy – these applicants would be granted “priority consideration”. While the endorsement may strengthen the applicant’s academic profile, it is just one factor of many used by selective and highly selective institutions in making admission decisions. As such, its impact and value would vary depending on the applicant’s overall academic profile. (Because of their different statutory missions, open, modified open, and moderately selective institutions would be able to provide a guaranteed admission to applicants with an endorsement.) Additionally, an applicant would not be penalized in the admissions process for not attaining an endorsed diploma.


    The work group has requested to be reconvened to provide a follow-up implementation recommendation after the following milestones occur:

  • CMAS and PARCC have been implemented with validated outcome data,

  • Admissions and remediation updated policies are in practice,

  • Graduation guidelines demonstrations menu finalized by State Board of Education,

  • Capstone guidance clarified and refined, and

  • Recommendation and implementation toolkit for school districts finalized and published.


    It is possible that the work group may recommend permanent removal of the diploma endorsement as an option during their follow-up discussion during the 2017-18 academic year or later. The two school districts that began pilot programs have suspended these prior to the recommendation from the work group. Districts in the early stages of consideration for the endorsed diploma are strongly encouraged to discuss with CDE staff prior to taking steps toward implementation.

Additional Information

For More Information

Please send questions or requests for more information to: Misti Ruthven

Additional Information

Developing Colorado’s Endorsed Diploma Criteria

In August 2013, the State Board of Education (SBE) and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) jointly adopted high school diploma endorsement criteria that local school districts may choose to use indicating a student’s level of Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR). The offering of a PWR Endorsed Diploma is voluntary for districts. The intention of this diploma is to identify student excellence over and above a standard high school diploma. The endorsement rewards high school graduates for excellence by guaranteeing that the student meets minimum academic qualifications for admission to all open, modified open, or moderately selective public institutions of higher education in Colorado, as well as priority consideration for admission into Colorado’s selective and highly selective institutions. Priority consideration for this purspose has not yet been defined.

The Colorado PWR Endorsed Diploma signifies a student has thoughtfully planned for post-high school life and is academically prepared for credit-bearing 100-level postsecondary coursework without the need for remediation. It also means the student possesses the abilities and skills demanded in a rapidly changing, 21st century workplace or postsecondary education environment (i.e., critical thinking and problem solving, information literacy, collaboration, self direction, and invention skills).

Process and Timelines:
The PWR Endorsed Diploma criteria have been developed by a statewide task force of members representing parents, high school leaders and postsecondary administrators. The task force convened in a series of five meetings beginning in late August 2011 and concluding in October 2011. Subsequently, all twenty three Colorado institutions of higher education approved the criteria by June of 2012.

The endorsed diploma criteria will be piloted in several Colorado high schools over the next few years in partnership with the Department of Higher Education. Statewide implementation is aligned with the Graduation Guidelines timeline. The PWR Endorsed Diploma is not a statewide requirement, local districts may elect to implement the PWR Endorsed Diploma in their high schools if they so choose.

Criteria for the Colorado PWR Endorsed Diploma

The PWR Endorsed Diploma criteria include four steps a student must satisfy:

  • Step 1 – Student is college ready in math and English language arts
  • Step 2 – Student completes ICAP
  • Step 3 – Student demonstrates 21st century skills
  • Step 4 – Student demonstrates mastery of academic content in three content areas

For More Information

Please send questions or requests for more information to: Misti Ruthven

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