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Graduation 2020: Frequently Asked Questions

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Overview and School District Flexibility

What flexibility does a school district or Local Education Provider (LEP) have for Graduation in 2020?

A: Graduation requirements across Colorado are locally determined by LEPs, which means that there is flexibility to adjust local graduation requirements by school districts and charter schools. Please see CDE's Considerations for 2020 Colorado High School Graduates as a Result of COVID-19 for more information.

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Can we hold a graduation ceremony?

A: The Governor issued executive orders that directed all P-12 school districts and the Charter School Institute (CSI) to close buildings for normal in-person instruction from March 23, 2020 through April 30, 2020. The Governor has suggested that districts brainstorm alternatives to in-person graduation ceremonies, as it may be unlikely that those important events will be able to occur in-person for the 2019-20 academic year.

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If we cannot hold a graduation ceremony, will students still be considered graduates?

A: Yes. As long as students meet the minimum graduation requirements from the district or Local Education provider (LEP), they may receive their diplomas and final transcripts. LEPs determine the best way to issue diplomas and final transcripts for their students.

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Do students have to meet all of the locally determined graduation requirements? (What if students don't meet credit requirements?)

A: LEPs have the authority and flexibility to determine the number of courses required for graduation, and the method by which these courses are taught/delivered. The only course required in state law for graduation is civics, and local education providers have the ability to determine how this course requirement is met.

Consider the flexibility in your existing local policy for graduation. And consider other learning opportunities that your district can use to ensure students complete the needed coursework and experiences to graduate ready for postsecondary and workforce. If students are not yet ready for graduation in four years as determined at the local level, they may return for a fifth year.

Please review the Considerations for 2020 Colorado High School Graduates and view other suggestions and resources here. If you have additional questions or suggestions, please connect with CDE staff:

Andy Tucker,, 303-815-8747
Robin Russel,, 720-576-2902
Misti Ruthven,, 303-905-6338

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What is the last date by which students may complete graduation requirements to be considered a graduate of the class of 2020?

A: In order to count as a graduate in the class of 2020, students must meet local graduation requirements by August 31, 2020. Students may complete graduation requirements over the summer, if necessary. Consider counting summer courses, online courses, jobs, internships, apprenticeships, earned industry certificates, or other assessments/opportunities.

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Instruction and Reporting

How do we address students with varying needs and abilities to access different types of instruction when determining graduation policies?

A: Please refer to CDE's policy guidance, COVID-19 Instructional Guidance for Schools and Districts. Educational services should strive to include equitable access to instruction for all students. Equitable access does not require that all students receive instruction in the same format (e.g., online instruction). Districts should consider the individual learning needs of students in determining how to best meet individual needs. Schools must make every effort to provide appropriate special education and related services for students with disabilities, and to provide support to English learners to allow them to access academic content.

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Will CDE still have the same seat time and attendance requirements?

A: No. As described in CDE's policy guidance, COVID-19 Instructional Guidance for Schools and Districts, CDE will provide a statewide waiver from instructional hours and days requirements (C.R.S. 22-32-109(1)(n)) with the expectation that every district provides CDE with their plans to support learning during this time. CDE wants to make this as easy as possible and so in order to minimize time spent on reporting to CDE, each district will simply need to submit a copy of communications that the district has shared with students and families regarding their alternative learning plan.

CDE will not require a submission or tracking of attendance for individual students. With that in mind, we believe this information will be helpful in identifying possible support needs for ensuring all students are able to stay actively engaged in remote learning.

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Can students return for a fifth year if they have not met their graduation requirements by August 31, 2020?

A: Yes. Students may continue their education for a fifth, sixth or seventh year (or until age 21) if they are not yet ready to graduate.

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By which date do we need to report our graduates to CDE?

A: At this point, the year-end data collection is scheduled to close on September 10, 2020. Superintendents and data respondents will be notified if this deadline is extended.

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Assessments and Graduation Guidelines Measures

Will the SAT tests that were canceled for spring 2020 be rescheduled?

A: With the governor's suspension of in-person learning through the end of April 2020, PSAT/SAT testing will not occur this spring. We continue to work with College Board on options for the fall and believe there may be an opportunity for school day testing for interested districts, schools and students. We will share more information as it becomes available.

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What do we do about AP courses this spring? How will AP exams be administered?

A: In late March, College Board released AP Updates for Schools Impacted by Coronavirus with information about AP exams this spring. They reported:

  • Traditional face-to-face exam administrations will not take place. Students will take a 45-minute online free-response exam at home.
  • For each AP subject, there will be two different testing dates.

The full exam schedule, specific free-response question types that will be on each AP Exam, and additional testing details will be available by April 3. Please check back with College Board regularly for updates.

Can we use the Graduation Guidelines Menu of Options for 2020?  What is available?

A: Districts may consider using one or more options that allow students to show readiness for graduation 2020.
    (Click the button below to view the Graduation Guidelines)

Graduation Guidelines - Options Available in 2020



Other Topics

If students have qualified (or were on track to qualify) to receive a STEM or PWR diploma endorsement and/or a Seal of Biliteracy, can LEPs still award them?

A: Yes. STEM and PWR endorsements, as well as the Seal of Biliteracy may all be awarded on high school diplomas for the class of 2020. Like all graduation requirements, LEPs may exercise flexibility in how students attain these competencies and how they can be granted. Please see the guidance for the STEM diploma endorsement (DOC), the PWR diploma endorsement (PDF), and the Colorado Seal of Biliteracy.

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Are high school equivalency (HSE) vendors still offering HSE exams?

A: Yes. Colorado contracts with the three national vendors of HSE exams, GED, HiSET, and TASC. All three vendors intend to continue providing services during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, many testing centers, especially those located on high school and college campuses, are either closed or operating on reduced hours. If learners are interested in taking an HSE exam, they should contact the closest testing center directly. (Please remember that students must be 17 years old to qualify to take an HSE exam.) See the CDE High School Equivalency page for more information.

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Higher Education

For concurrent enrollment, must grades on the high school and college transcripts be the same?

A: While this is standard practice, in these exceptional circumstances, LEPs have the authority to determine what they post on transcripts. For example, a student may receive a grade of Pass (P) or Satisfactory (S) on the IHE transcript, but the high school may post the letter grade earned on the HS transcript.

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