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Colorado Essential Skills

Colorado Essential Skills 



In 2008, Colorado passed legislation (Senate Bill 08-212) that requires the State Board of Education to adopt content standards that prepare students for the 21st century workforce and for active citizenship upon receiving a high school diploma. In addition to the requirement that students meet those content standards, students must also (to the extent practicable) develop and demonstrate skills essential for success in professional life. The same law, amended in 2019, also requires a revision to approximately one-third of the the Colorado Academic standards beginning in 2022 and an additional one-third every two years thereafter (22-7-1005(6) C.R.S.). 

The Colorado Academic Standards and the Post-Secondary and Workforce Readiness description review and revision process provides an opportunity for these skills to be revisited and clarified. In an effort to update Colorado’s 2018 Essential Skills and better align these skills from preschool through postsecondary, the Colorado Department of Education brought together a cross-unit team of specialists to revise the Essential Skills.  They used the framework and subsequent associated research to frame the current revision.  In addition, the team used the 2020 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report and research to guide their revisions. This second version contains the same skills as the first version, with two additional skills (data literacy and digital literacy) which are included based on the most recent Colorado Talent Pipeline Report.  The change that most people will notice is in the organization and categorization of the skills.  The workgroup decided to organize them based on what we see Colorado graduates as being: Communicators, Problem solvers, Community Members, and Empowered Individuals.


DRAFT Revised Colorado Essential Skills 

This document is in draft form and is in the process of refinement, CDE seeks feedback from the public and other statewide participants in business and industry, education, non-profit organizations and government sectors. Feedback will be accepted until January 1, 2022.  SURVEY 


Graphic showing the four categories of essential skills and their subsequent skills.

The team will be working over the next year on an Implementation Guide to clearly identify how these statutorily identified skills manifest in early childhood and continue through their postsecondary pursuits leading to in-demand employment skills. Developmentally appropriate support for these skills should occur in all subject areas throughout students’ academic careers. Understanding the importance of these skills is the first step in achieving life-long success for all students.


The 2018 Colorado Essential Skills are incorporated into the 2020 Colorado Academic Standards and can still be used.  Many of the skills remained the same in the revised document, with some reorganization and added definitions.