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Workforce Diploma Pilot Program FAQ
This Q&A provides answers to questions regarding the Workforce Diploma Pilot Program. The categories below include:
How are “career pathways” defined?
“Career Pathways” are a series of connected education and training strategies and support services that enable individuals to secure industry-relevant skills and certification where applicable, to obtain employment within an occupational area, and to advance to higher levels of future education and employment, pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-46.3-104(2)(b).
How is “diploma granting” defined?
“Diploma granting” means a public or private education institution that has established high school graduation requirements that meet or exceed the Colorado Graduation Guidelines and which provide a diploma certifying that the holder has met such requirements and graduated from the institution’s course of study.
How is “employability skills” defined?
CDE asks eligible providers to share their definition of an employability skill and the employability skills framework that will be used for the provider’s student population. CDE encourages eligible providers to use the CDE Essential Skills Framework as a reference.
How is a high school “half-credit” defined for reimbursement purposes?
Since the law refers to Carnegie units in relation to employability skills certification programs (C.R.S. § 22-10-103(5)(a)(III)), the Workforce Diploma Pilot Program will consider a high school half-credit based the explanation of secondary level credit units in the Structure of the U.S. Education System: Credit Systems document from the U.S. Department of Education. Qualified providers should consider the amount of time a student would spend attending one class for approximately 60 minutes a day for four to five days a week plus the amount of time it would take the student to independently complete coursework in a high school semester.
What are Colorado’s “high school graduation guidelines”?
“High school graduation guidelines” means the high school graduation guidelines set by the Colorado State Board of Education, pursuant to C.R.S. § 22-2-106(1)(a.5). The graduation guidelines adopted by the state board of education in September 2015 (and updated in July 2019) include a menu of college and career-ready demonstrations, called the Menu of Options. Graduation guidelines begin with the implementation of: Individual Career and Academic Plans (ICAP), Colorado Academic Standards for all content areas including Civics, and 21st Century Skills. Students must demonstrate college or career readiness in English and math based on at least one measure.
How is “industry-recognized credential” defined?
“Industry-recognized credential” means a credential that results from an industry recognized third-party or governing board administered assessment, examination or licensure that measures occupational competency and validates a knowledge base and skills that demonstrate mastery in a particular in-demand industry. Third-parties may include employers, professional organizations and industry associations. Governing boards may include local workforce development boards, a state educational agency and a public regulatory agency.
What are the “recognized regional accrediting bodies”?
“Recognized regional accrediting bodies” are one of the following regional accrediting bodies (or consolidation thereof) that provides high school diploma accreditation:
Colorado State Board of Education
Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSACESS)
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI)
Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI)
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
Can we use our existing Accuplacer or high school equivalency (HSE) testing towards meeting the graduation requirements? Can the cost of testing be covered by other parts of the organization?
The Accuplacer is one of the options listed on the Colorado Graduation Guidelines Menu of Options; thus, if an eligible student meets the minimum scores for both English and Math outlined in the Menu of Options, the Accuplacer can be used toward meeting the graduation requirements set by the qualified provider.
High school equivalency testing results are not included in the Colorado Graduation Guidelines Menu of Options. The Colorado Graduation Guidelines Menu of Options can be found here: http://www.cde.state.co.us/postsecondary/graduationguidelines
The law does not prohibit the use of private funds or funding from other sources for the resources used in the program, so the cost of testing may be paid for by other parts of the qualified provider’s organization.
What are the course requirements for graduation in Colorado?
There are no specific courses, or numbers of courses, required by the state’s graduation guidelines, and there are no legislated course requirements other than one course in Civics: “History and civil government of the United States and of the state of Colorado,” pursuant to C.R.S. § 22-1-104(3)(a).
Each district sets its graduation requirements based on many factors, including Graduation Guidelines, Colorado Academic Standards in 10 content areas, 21st century skills, and ICAP. Districts have also built their graduation requirements based on higher education standards, competency-based programs, and the skills that are defined by employers and industries.
(This answer is taken directly from the Graduation Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.cde.state.co.us/postsecondary/gradguidelinesfaqs#GGMenuofoptions).
What must be included in the required Civics course?
The “history and civil government of the United States and of the state of Colorado,” Civics course is outlined in C.R.S. § 22-1-104(3)(a) as follows:
The history and civil government of the state of Colorado shall be taught in all the public schools of this state. In addition, the history and civil government of the United States, which includes the history, culture, and contributions of minorities, including, but not limited to, the American Indians, the Hispanic Americans, and the African Americans, shall be taught in all the public schools of the state. Satisfactory completion of a course on the civil government of the United States and the state of Colorado…shall be a condition of high school graduation in the public schools of the state.
Is a capstone project required for graduation? Is an industry certificate required for graduation? Is there a definitive list of all graduation requirements?
Capstone projects and industry certificates are just some of the options on the Colorado Graduation Guidelines Menu of Options. Providers must meet or exceed the state board of education's high school graduation guidelines to be approved as a qualified provider. Information about the Colorado Graduation Guidelines Menu of Options, including the definition of a “district capstone”, can be found here: http://www.cde.state.co.us/postsecondary/graduationguidelines
Does a qualified provider only have to help the student earn missing credits (e.g., a student that dropped out in eleventh grade and only has seven high school credits remaining)?
A qualified provider must follow its own graduation requirements (that meet or exceed the Colorado State Board of Education’s Graduation Guidelines). As outlined in the law (C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(3)(c)), the qualified provider must develop a learning plan for the student that integrates academic requirements and career goals.
Will programs that are only online/call center qualify?
The law does not prohibit nor promote online/call center only programs from qualifying.
What is CDE’s plan to ensure access to services by geographic areas or for students that lack broadband or internet access in their homes?
The law does not address student access in terms of service availability by geography, nor student access to broadband / internet.
Libraries in Colorado have access to Career Online High School as a benefit to their patrons. Is Career Online High School considered an accredited high school diploma?
Career Online High School is accredited by the following recognized regional accrediting bodies:
- North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI)
- Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI)
Therefore, Career Online High School is an accredited high school diploma. Please note that any libraries/library systems interested in participating in the pilot program must complete the entire Request for Qualifications.
What are the expectations of qualified providers to offer wraparound services for student students that need wraparound supports? Does the pilot require K-12 wraparound services, such as mental health, transportation, English for Speakers of Other Languages, etc.?
The law does not address wraparound services for students enrolled in the program. The law does, however, define qualified providers as those that have at least two years of experience with “proactive coaching and mentoring” and “career placement services,” so those types of services must be available to students enrolled in the program (C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(3)(a)(j)). This pilot is designed for students over the age of 21 and thus these students over the age of 21 cannot access wraparound services through the K-12 system.
Which academic skill intake assessments are acceptable?
As the law does not outline specific academic skill intake assessments, eligible providers must simply provide a rationale for how the proposed academic skill intake assessment(s) meet the provider’s need to accurately understand students’ skills.
Is citizenship a requirement for students to participate?
Per C.R.S. § 22-10.3-102(2), an eligible student:
- Is at least twenty-one (21) years of age;
- Is a resident of the state of Colorado; and
- Lacks a high school diploma.
As citizenship status is not mentioned in the eligible student definition, it is not a requirement for student eligibility.
Are there particular populations that must be served or prioritized?
Per C.R.S. § 22-10.3-102(2), an eligible student:
- Is at least twenty-one (21) years of age;
- Is a resident of the state of Colorado; and
- Lacks a high school diploma.
As no particular populations are outlined in the law, there is no population that must be served nor prioritized for this pilot program.
If a student is functionally illiterate, may a qualified provider place the student in remedial classes to prepare him/her? Would the student count towards the 50% graduation rate?
As outlined in the law (C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(3)(e)), qualified providers must have the ability to provide remedial course work in literacy and numeracy. Once a qualified provider accepts reimbursement from CDE for a reimbursable outcome, the student would be counted toward the 50% graduation rate calculation (in the denominator) within the same fiscal year that the qualified provider was reimbursed.
May a qualified provider limit the number of total students in the pilot program? Are there minimums or maximums?
The number of total students in the pilot program is determined by the qualified provider. There are no minimums nor maximums. Please see the Reporting and Performance section of these Frequently Asked Questions for information about how the law defines the number of students in the program for evaluating qualified provider performance and reporting purposes.
Does the date when they turn 21 matter? If they turn 21 at the time of service, can we be reimbursed for credits before they turned 21?
Per C.R.S. § 22-10.3-102(2), an eligible student must be at least twenty-one (21) years of age; therefore, credits received before the learner turns 21 are not eligible for reimbursement. Once the learner is 21, the credits the students receive after they turn 21 are eligible for reimbursement.
What are the reporting requirements?
Per C.R.S. § 22-10.3-104(1), on or before August 15 of each year in which program payments were disbursed for the prior state fiscal year, each qualified provider that received reimbursement payments under the pilot program for the preceding state fiscal year shall report, at a minimum, the following information to CDE in the template provided by CDE:
- The total number of eligible students for whom the qualified provider received payments
- The total number of half-credits earned by eligible students for whom the qualified provider received payments
- The total number of employability skills certifications issued to eligible students for whom the qualified provider received payments
- The total number of industry-recognized credentials earned by eligible students that required up to 50 hours of training for whom the qualified provider received payments
- The total number of industry-recognized credentials earned by eligible students that required between 51 and 100 hours of training for whom the qualified provider received payments
- The total number of industry-recognized credentials earned by eligible students that required more than 100 hours of training for whom the qualified provider received payments
- The total number of eligible students who earned a high school diploma for whom the qualified provider received payments
CDE may request additional documentation from a qualified provider to confirm the accuracy of the reported data.
Will CDE report on how students served by this pilot compare with students served through CDE adult education grants (e.g. Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) grant, Adult Education and Literacy Act (AELA) grant)?
C.R.S. § 22-10.3-104(2) outlines that CDE must submit an annual report to the legislature listing qualified providers and summarizing the information received from qualified providers; see the above Frequently Asked Question for the data qualified providers must submit to CDE each year that are explicitly called out in the law. The law also states that “other workforce and postsecondary outcomes, including employment and college enrollment,” may be included in the legislative report. CDE is working to determine what level of data would need to be collected from qualified providers and the types of data sharing agreements with other agencies may be needed to report on those other types of outcomes comparable to the AEFLA and AELA grants.
Please clarify the 50% graduation rate used for performance standards. How do students count? Will the reporting that CDE publicly provides count all students of a given qualified provider, or just those for whom the payment is claimed?
As outlined in the law (C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(7)(a)(I)), programs offered by each qualified provider must meet minimum program performance standards, including a minimum fifty percent high school graduation rate from the qualified provider's programs. The law goes on to explain that the graduation rate is calculated one year in arrears and is based on a cohort year. The Colorado Department of Education must calculate the graduation rate by dividing the total number of high school graduates for the cohort year by the total number of all students for the cohort year for which the qualified provider has received payments. The law specifies that only students for whom the qualified provider claims payment will be reported to CDE. For example, within the cohort year that spans July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020, if a qualified provider reported 30 high school diploma attainments and received reimbursement payments from CDE for 45 different students, the calculation would be 30 / 45 = 67%. The qualified provider in this scenario would meet this performance standard. As the law requires, providers that do not meet this program performance standard will be placed on probationary status.
If a student drops out, will that impact the graduation rate of a qualified provider?
The law specifies that only students for whom the qualified provider claims payment will be reported to CDE, and therefore will be included in the graduation rate calculation. If a qualified provider accepted payment for a student (for example, payment for high school half-credits earned) and then the student dropped out before attaining a high school diploma, that student dropping out would impact the qualified provider’s graduation rate as the student would be in the denominator but not the numerator.
Is ACT WorkKeys – National Career Readiness Certificate en Espanol (ACT NCRC en Espanol) an approved assessment to meet or exceed the Colorado Graduation Guidelines?
According to the Menu of College and Career-Ready Demonstrations, districts and qualified providers have the authority to adapt any option in the menu to accommodate English learners, gifted students, and students with disabilities. Therefore, ACT WorkKeys – National Career Readiness Certificate en Espanol is an acceptable assessment for learners that need this accommodation.
Will there be rulemaking through the Colorado State Board of Education (SBE), or will all expectations and requirements be incorporated into the Request for Qualifications?
According to the law, SBE may or may not adopt rules for the implementation of this pilot. At this time the SBE is not pursuing the creation of board rules for this pilot. This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) will be updated as needed to address any new questions concerning the pilot.
How is the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) collaborating with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE)?
CDE is in conversation with all Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) partners regarding this pilot as relevant.
If an eligible provider does not wish to request reimbursement for industry-recognized credentials and does not plan to offer those services, how may the eligible provider complete Section I. of the Request for Qualifications?
Per C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(3)(i), the criteria necessary to be a qualified provider includes…the ability to provide preparation for industry-recognized credentials. Therefore, if the eligible applicant does not plan to request reimbursement for industry-recognized credentials, the eligible applicant would still need to address Section I. in the response that describes the eligible applicant’s ability to prepare students to earn industry-recognized credentials. The eligible applicant could do this by speaking about its ability to prepare students for experiences that may be required when earning an industry-recognized credential, such as test-taking strategies to pass a standardized industry exam. If, in the future, the eligible applicant would like to request reimbursement for industry-recognized credentials, the eligible applicant would need to provide a list of all industry-recognized credentials that would be offered along with evidence of how these credentials are aligned with in-demand industry sectors or occupations in the state of Colorado during a future open Request for Qualifications period.
Do the suggested page lengths listed in the Request for Qualifications Qualification Criteria table show the maximum amount of pages an eligible provider may use for each section?
Responses may not exceed the 22 page limit. The estimated number of pages for each response section that is listed in the Qualification Criteria table of the Request for Qualifications are just suggestions; they are not meant to show minimums nor maximums for each section. The number of pages the eligible provider uses for each section within the overall 22 page limit is up to the eligible provider’s discretion.
May organizations that receive other funding from CDE’s Office of Adult Education Initiatives Education also be eligible providers?
Organizations that receive other sources of adult education funding from CDE are not prohibited from applying. Any organization that applies must meet the criteria outlined in the Request for Qualifications in order to become a qualified provider.
If a qualified provider charges a fee or tuition, would the program be ineligible to claim payment for that student?
Yes, if the organization charges students a fee or tuition for a service provided through the Workforce Diploma Pilot Program, the program would be ineligible to claim payment for those students. Per C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(5)(b)(II), a qualified provider that receives tuition or other payment from or on behalf of an eligible student shall not also receive a payment from the program on behalf of the eligible student for the same course or program.
If a qualified provider collects partial tuition or fees from or on behalf of a student, may reimbursement from the pilot program be collected?
A qualified provider that collects partial tuition or fees from or on behalf of students for a service provided through the Workforce Diploma Pilot Program may not claim payment for those students. Per C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(5)(b)(II), a qualified provider that receives tuition or other payment from or on behalf of an eligible student shall not also receive a payment from the program on behalf of the eligible student for the same course or program.
If a qualified provider charges another organization (e.g., local workforce center, non-profit) a fee or tuition, would the program be ineligible to claim payment for that student?
A qualified provider may not claim payment if a fee has been charged and paid by another organization on behalf of a specific student for the particular reimbursable outcome; per C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(5)(b)(II), a qualified provider that receives tuition or other payment from or on behalf of an eligible student shall not also receive a payment from the program on behalf of the eligible student for the same course or program. A qualified provider, though, may charge another organization a fee for one type of outcome (e.g. industry-recognized credential) and not request reimbursement for that outcome, but may claim payment for a different outcome (e.g. high school diploma) if a fee was not charged on behalf of that student for that outcome.
May a qualified provider charge adult learners participating in the program fees for things such as books, student IDs, technology, etc.?
A qualified provider may not charge adult learners fees as the fees would qualify as “other payment,” which is expressly prohibited in C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(5)(b)(II): “A qualified provider that receives tuition or other payment from or on behalf of an eligible student shall not also receive a payment from the program on behalf of the eligible student for the same course or program.”
If a qualified provider gets state grant/formula funds and/or federal grant/formula funds, for adult education services, may the qualified provider collect payment for student outcomes?
If the funds are not tied to a specific student for the particular reimbursable outcome, the qualified provider may collect reimbursement for the outcome.
Will the monthly reports CDE publishes regarding payment and number of students required in C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(6)(b) be available to the public?
Yes, the monthly reporting is publicly available on the CDE State and Federal Grant Distribution Reports webpage, which is in alignment with CDE’s commitment to transparency in publishing disbursements to all organizations.
If a library/library system is a qualified provider, do the reimbursements collected from this pilot program impact the maintenance of effort requirement for State Grants to Libraries?
No, reimbursements collected from this pilot program do not impact the maintenance of effort requirement for State Grants to Libraries.
May qualified providers use resources (e.g., computers, books, teachers, testing fees) that were paid for by other funds? What about other private funds?
The law does not prohibit the use of private funds or funding from other sources for the resources used in the program.
When may reimbursements for high school half-credits earned by students working toward completing high school diplomas be collected by the qualified provider? Is reimbursement collected for every half-credit?
Qualified providers may submit reimbursements to CDE once a month, and may include as many of the high school half-credits that have been earned by students in the program as the qualified provider wishes. Please note that once reimbursement is collected for student completion/attainment of any outcome, including high school half-credits, that student will be counted as part of the qualified provider’s graduation rate at the close of the fiscal year.
May a qualified provider collect a $1,000.00 reimbursement for a student’s high school diploma attainment even if reimbursements were already collected for the same student’s high school half-credit(s) completion?
Yes, qualified providers may collect reimbursement for a student’s high school diploma attainment in addition to the reimbursements already collected for the same student’s high school half-credit(s) completion if the qualified provider is approved to be reimbursed for high school half-credits and if funds are still available in that fiscal year. Per C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(5)(B)(I),the maximum a provider may receive per learner is $7,000. If a provider was already reimbursed $7,000 for a learner, the provider would not receive the high school diploma attainment reimbursement. CDE will contact the provider if the maximum reimbursement for a learner has been reached.
Do remedial classes count for eligible provider reimbursements?
The law does not address remedial classes. Reimbursements may be made to qualified providers for each high school half-credit, so if the course that the student takes is part of the qualified provider’s graduation requirements, successful completion of the course can qualify for reimbursement.
How should providers request for half credits on the request for funds form (RFF)?
Each half credit needs its own line. If a learner earns 10 half credits, they will be listed on 10 separate lines, one line for each half-credit received. Questions regarding the RFF should be emailed to Marti Rodriguez (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Where is the request for funds form (RFF) found?
Reimbursement forms will be placed in each qualified provider’s Syncplicity folder. If a qualified provider is unable to access the Syncplicity folder, please reach out to AEI (AEI@cde.state.co.us).
Are we capped at the number of half credits and graduations we requested in the application?
The proposed number of reimbursements outlined in a provider’s Request for Qualifications, and, in each subsequent year’s Annual Performance Report, are just proposed numbers. Providers are not held to the proposed reimbursements listed in the table, nor are specific funding amounts allocated to providers based on the information in the table. The Workforce Diploma Pilot Program operates on a first-come, first-served reimbursement basis for qualified providers for outcomes earned in a given fiscal year.
In the reimbursement form, what is the pass/fail column for?
Per C.R.S. § 22-10.3-103(5)(a)(I), providers are only reimbursed for completed (passed) half-credits.
We are in a quarter system. Can we internally track the half-credit and then ask for reimbursement for the full half credit when the student completes?
Yes, please maintain documentation that indicates how the learner acquired the half credit (2 quarter credits) for auditing purposes. Note that qualified providers may submit reimbursements to CDE once a month.
What incentives are there for organizations to serve those who are struggling, or who have farther to go?
The law does not outline any technical assistance requirements for CDE nor any incentives for eligible providers. For context, 0.2 FTE has been allocated by the State Legislature for the basic implementation of this program. Additional staffing funds have not been allocated that would allow for technical assistance to qualified providers.
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