You are here

Graduation Guidelines - Capstone

book Capstone Project

A Capstone Project is a multifaceted body of work that is district determined and serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience for students. Capstone projects are district determined and could:
  • include a portfolio of the student’s best work ─curriculum or research-based;
  • feature a set of experiments organized around a central problem; and/or
  • showcase a community service project or learning activity.

A portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits effort, progress and achievement over time and against a set of clearly defined outcomes. Portfolios include collections of work that demonstrate evidence of:

  • work in progress, including documentation of ICAP
  • content knowledge or skills, including Career and Technical Education (CTE) competencies
  • workforce readiness (i.e., skills in problem solving, adaptability or ability to collaborate)
  • college readiness (i.e. applications, letters of recommendation, test scores)

Green Mountain HS Promising Practices Thumbnail
Green Mountain High School Academy Pathways were adopted by Canon City Schools

News and Updates

Coming in Fall 2024

At the request of educators across the state, CDE has convened a 40-person stakeholder group to draft quality criteria intended to guide the development and implementation of capstone processes for students seeking to use this option for Graduation Guidelines purposes. If you are interested in receiving updates on this work, engaging in related professional learning opportunities, or participating in pilot efforts, please reach out to Robin Russel or Angela Landrum.

New Case Study Research Report

CDE Partners with The Center for Assessment, Design, Research and Evaluation (CADRE) at the University of Colorado Boulder to study the implementation of Capstones and Performance Assessments. This multi-year, multi-site case study documents what has been learned from Colorado schools that have used capstone and performance assessments Pl to establish relevant learning experiences for students and to evaluate student postsecondary and workforce readiness knowledge and skills.

Exploring the Implications of the Expanded Graduation Menu Guidelines: An Evaluation of the Capstone Experience in One High School (PDF)


lightbulb Implementation Strategies and Promising Practices

Students with IEPs

Access information and resources from the Capstone Workshop for Students with IEPs (Oct 2021) including an in-depth conversation about developing a Capstone process that includes all students, and a focus on how to include students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP)

    Consider other practices:

English Learners

In a recent update to the Menu of Options (October 2021), “English” and “Math” were more clearly defined as, “Reading, Writing, and Communicating” and “Mathematics."  Because accommodations for Graduation Guidelines for English learners are locally determined, districts and LEPs have chosen to outline specific accommodations in policy and/or in students’ ICAPs, IEPs, and other formal plans.  Some of the examples of EL accommodations include:

The guidelines for English Learners on state assessments are determined by federal rules under the U.S. Department of Education.

Implementation Strategies and Promising Practices, 2015-2024


Animas High School, Durango

Canon City High School, Canon City

Capstone Symposium, Nov 6, 2018, hosted by Roaring Fork Schools

Capstone Workgroup (2015)

Center High School

District 49

Denver Public Schools

Garfield 16, Parachute

Green Mountain High School, Lakewood


Gunnison Schools

Lonestar Schools

North Park High School, Walden

Otis School District

  • The Six P's: 
    • Proposal, Product/Service/Fieldwork, Paper
    • Portfolio, Promotional Capstone Poster, Presentation

Poudre School District, Ft Collins

Polaris Expeditionary Learning School, Ft Collins

University High School Charter, Greeley

magnifying glass Resources

Performance Outcomes

Asia Society has developed a series of tools to clarify global competency goals, and help students and teachers document the contribution toward achieving those goals. For each subject area and for global leadership, they provide a rationale and series of tools to show what students need to know and be able to do.   A rubric lists specific evidence students demonstrate as they progress towards global competency. This is a tool for students and teachers alike. Download these tools for free.



Portfolio Defense

Service Learning

Capstone Work Group (2014)