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Graduation Guidelines Promising Practices


The section provides examples of graduation guidelines practices currently used in Colorado schools and districts. They represent a wide variety of practices across the state, including: rural, suburban, and urban areas; districts that range from small to large; public schools, and charter schools. This collection provides school professionals with real-life examples of Graduation Guidelines implementation practices that can be downloaded and adapted for use in your setting.

This site will continue to expand as more districts align their local graduation requirements with the Colorado Graduation Guidelines, and as they begin to share their practices.

Submit a Promising Practice

If you would like to submit examples of board policy, strategic plans, implementation plans or tools, please contact:

Robin Russel, CDE
Graduation Guidelines Manager

Graduation cap and diploma

District Policies

Aligning Local Graduation Requirements with Graduation Guidelines

Capstone – Implementation Practices

Canon City High School, Canon City

Capstone Workgroup

Denver Public Schools

Douglas County Schools

Contact: Nate Burgard, Coordinator, Assessment & System Performance Office

Englewood Schools

Contact: Diana Zakhem, Director, Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

Jefferson County Schools

District level information:

Contact: Jef Fugita, Executive Director, Curriculum & Instruction

Green Mountain High School, Lakewood, CO

Contact: Tracy Csavina

North Park High School, Walden, CO

Contact: Lynnette Weddle, Language Arts Instructor

 Poudre School District, Ft Collins

Capstone Project Framework 

Polaris Expeditionary Learning School

Contact Sheila Pottorff, PWR Coordinator

Roaring Fork Schools, Glenwood Springs, CO

Contact: Kelsy Been, Chief Information Officer, Roaring Fork Schools or Rob Stein, Superintendent, Roaring Fork Schools

St. Vrain Schools

University Schools Charter School (Greeley Evans 6)

University High School has required senior projects for over 20 years. University High School has five pathway diplomas, and the senior project is required for all. Recently they revised the requirement to include more accountability and consistent quality.

Contact: Holly Sample, Principal

Communication Tools

Toolkit for Community Collaboration

In early 2015, the Colorado Department of Education, The Colorado Education Initiative, and The Learning Accelerator invited two Colorado districts - Archuleta 50 in Pagosa Springs and District 51 in Mesa County - to pilot a new model in their local communities. The early lessons from these two pilot districts are the basis for the Community Collaboration for School Innovation Toolkit, a resource that will continue to evolve as districts are able to use, own, and adapt it to meet the needs of their unique communities.

This toolkit was created for use by any district as administrators and leaders begin the important work of shifting to a new community collaboration model that encourages the district to pull in guidance and directives from the community and leverage that input to drive innovations. This new model is critical as school districts look for innovative and effective ways to meet the growing challenges facing public education in the 21st century.

Access the Communication Collaboration Toolkit


Mesa 51

  • Preparing Our Graduates for the 21st Century
    The subtitle for this Prezi: What the New Graduation Requirements Mean for our Schools, Students, and Community
  • What You Need to Know About Graduation Requirements
    "This toolkit provides resources related to creating, communicating, and implementing upcoming graduation requirement revisions. It follows years of work from the district on the initiative, ‘Transforming into a 21st Century District.’ "
  • District 51 - Progress
    This brochure highlights District 51’s progress on meeting the state’s graduation guidelines and postsecondary and workforce readiness. Sections of the brochure include timeline, previous year’s accomplishments and planned accomplishments for the next three years.

Falcon 49

  • 49 Pathways
    “In our new system, which we call 49 Pathways, District 49 students will graduate after designing their unique pathway, completing a series of classes, presenting capstone projects, earning industrial certifications, and achieving assessment results that demonstrate mastery of the knowledge and skills they will need to be successful. Our students will earn a diploma as recognition for completing the pathway specified in their individual career and academic plan. Every student will navigate their own path at their own pace toward the destination that matters most to them.”

View the Key Messages and Talking Points from the Graduation Guidelines Engagement Toolkit

Industry Certificates – Implementation Strategies

View a copy of the Industry Certificates Work Group Report


CTE programs offer a unique opportunity for the implementation of industry certifications into the curriculum. Programs often have an appropriate sequence of courses that seamlessly lead to an industry certification. Note that while there are community/technical college certificates signifying completion of a series of courses, this is not the same as an industry recognized certification. Completion of a community/technical college series of courses can prepare a student to take the assessment to earn an industry recognized certification.

CTE Pathways Plans of Study and Individual Career and Academic Plans (ICAP) can be used to guide students to develop and maintain a personalized plan that will ensure program and workforce success. These plans of study can often lead to identified industry certifications, providing a guided pathway toward earning these certifications.

CTE Pathways Plans of Study

Examples of plans of study are available on the Colorado Community College System and College in Colorado websites.In each plan of study, the student:

  • Identifies a career pathway, lists the progression of high school courses, and can include industry-recognized certificates and licenses
  • can link to industry and certification

Littleton Public Schools

  • Plan of Study: Information Technology
    Littleton Public Schools partnered with Arapahoe Community College to create a sample Plan of Study for the Management and Administration STEM Pathway. In addition to suggested high school courses and electives, the plan includes links for industry-recognized certifications for Microsoft, MOS Cisco, and A+ Network (Comp TIAA).
  • CTE Career Pathways
    This document is Littleton’s adaptation of the Colorado Career Cluster Model. It displays career pathways and indicates offerings for concurrent enrollment and courses offered at Littleton and at external locations (e.g., community college).
  • Entrepreneur Plan of Study
    This document is Littleton’s adaptation of one of the Colorado CTE Plans of Study. It displays suggested high school courses by grade level; secondary to postsecondary linkages and certifications; postsecondary programs, institutions, and requirements. It also lists information on the career cluster, including extended learning experiences (and their local availability) and career options and corresponding salary ranges.

Peyton School District

The Woods Manufacturing Program is the showcase of an industry-based program. In 2009 – Dean Mattson, a business man from the cabinet-making industry, came to North Salem HS in Salem, Oregon and built a Lean Manufacturing Woods program that was recognized Nationally. In 2015 Peyton School District hired Mattson to expand this educational model to Colorado. In the fall of 2105, Peyton School District opened its Career Technical Education Facility in an abandoned middle school with the Woods Manufacturing Program. “This is not a shop class, but a program that teaches students cutting edge skills needed in the Woods Manufacturing industry. ”

Send Us Your Promising Practices

Contact:Robin Russel, Graduation Guidelines Manager

In June 2015, district and school leaders gathered for a Professional Learning Community to discuss promising practices for industry certifications. Here is a list of practices that reflects the kind of examples that these administrators would like to learn more about:

  • Districts who work together (CTE) to support students’ technical education interests
  • Equitable process(es) for all students
  • Sector Summits: Industry validates course work and validates certifications
  • Customized training
  • Programs at our designated CTE schools(s) that encourage students to take a certification exam as part of the program
  • Programs that help all students prepare for licensure – but necessarily sit for the exam (especially helpful for English learners and undocumented students)
  • Career Services departments that stay on top of in-demand certifications
  • Testing center in a high school that proctors certification exams

  • How to 1) find and 2) partner with industries in my community/area
  • How to inventory what is already available in my school/district
  • Advising models
  • Timelines
  • Common plans of study with common course numbering (like community colleges already have)
  • Professional development/information sessions for all stakeholders to encourage a common understanding of certifications and graduation guidelines, and how to support students
  • Businesses that work with schools to build apprenticeship programs (including curriculum development) that lead to specific industry certifications (and jobs!)
  • Collaboration between districts (and with CDE) to help train teachers and to learn about partnering with industry


Students With Disabilities

Poudre Integrated District

Poudre Integrated Services provides coordination of Transition Services that promote movement from school to post-school activities.

  • ACE Coffee Project
    Coffee Roasting is a new program provided by the Alternative Cooperative Education (ACE)-Supported Employment Program. This presentation describes the purposes, process, and tasks of The Coffee Roasting project in the ACE-Supported Employment Program. Other entrepreneurial programs in the district are also listed, including: Laser Engraver, Coffee Cart & BloomTown, Sign Shop, Clyde’s Closet, and Dog Biscuits.
  • Pathways to Graduation
    This document describe pathways to high school graduation for students with exceptionalities, including the following programs: Alternative Cooperative Education (ACE), WorkKeys, Credit Recovery, Career and Technical Education (CTE), and School to Work Alliance Program (SWAP). Post high school programs are also listed.
  • SWAP Brochure
    Poudre School District developed a partnership for SWAP with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. This brochure describes the School to Work Alliance Program (SWAP) for young adults ages 16-25. It describes participant candidacy, benefits for participants, and benefits for employers. It also provides a link to the Poudre Integrated Services webpage for more information.
  • Transition Series Flyers and Videos
    These flyers publicize the following events to students with disabilities ages 14 and over and their families: Job Readiness Skills and Community Resource Fairs, Community Centered Board – Foothills Gateway, Transition Programs and opportunities post high school, Legal and Social Security Information for Transition, Community Resource Fair and Employment Opportunities.

Strategic Plans

Roaring Fork

Roaring Fork underwent a visioning process which led to a strategic planning process. A local nonprofit organization facilitated meetings to involve all stakeholders. A strategic plan was developed from the themes of these meetings.

  • Strategic Plan Overview
    This overview displays five strategic pillars, numerous strategies, and target results of the district’s strategic plan, along with the mission and six core values that guide them.
  • Strategic Plan Summary
    This summary describes the foundations (mission, commitments, and values), results-based approach, process, results, monitoring plan, data development agenda, and recommendations of the district’s strategic planning efforts.
  • Strategic Plan Coordination Website
    This website includes information about Roaring Fork’s strategic plan: an overview, a summary report, and a 1000x view that includes results and indicators, academic excellence, character development, talent development, strategic use of resources, and community partnership. The website also provides plans and resources for each of 16 action teams and the commitments and final report for the visioning process. It was created for action teams to use in collaboration, monitoring, and implementation efforts.

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