Tag Archives: Joyce Rankin Colorado State Board of Education

Latest News – August 10

Education? “It’s complicated.”

By Joyce Rankin, State Board of Education

Joyce Formal sport coat

State Board Representative Joyce Rankin

Have you ever asked a question and been given the answer, “It’s complicated”? Me, too. It’s a frequently used phrase around the Colorado Department of Education.

Recently I was having a conversation with constituents when the following question was raised: “What are we doing for our high achieving students?” Well, it’s complicated.

In May 2009, the Colorado State Legislature passed House Bill 09-1319 and Senate Bill 09-285, the Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act. The concurrent enrollment program is defined as, “the simultaneous enrollment of a qualified student in a local education provider (high school) and in one or more postsecondary courses, including academic or career and technical education courses, which may include course work related to apprenticeship programs or internship programs, at an institution of higher education.”

Basically dual and concurrent enrollment are terms used interchangeably to describe college courses students take while in high school.  They can be taught by qualified high school instructors or through an agreement with a local community or four year college.

The 2009 bill also creates another program for students completing 12 post-secondary credit hours prior to the completion of 12th grade. The Accelerating Students through Concurrent ENrollmenT (ASCENT) program provides qualifying high school students a 5th year of tuition free college. At the end of the fifth year at their local education provider (high school), the student will receive their high school diploma.

AP or Advanced Placement is another way for students to take content rich courses over a wide range of information. Currently 34 courses are offered by highly qualified teachers in some Colorado high schools. Every May AP Examinations are administered to evaluate the skills learned in these courses. The tests are not mandatory however students taking the tests and performing well can earn college credit and advanced placement at many colleges.


Lake County High School has partnered with Colorado Mountain College to provide Early College, adding one more carrot to the school choice plate. Go Panthers! Photo: Leadville Today/Wayne Thomas.

Early college is also a chance for students to gain college credit. In this case enrolled high school students have the opportunity to graduate with either an associate’s degree or 60 credit hours toward the completion of a postsecondary credential.

These are a few of the opportunities currently being offered in Colorado high schools. Of course there are also blended learning classes that allow for coursework helpful in attaining certifications and college credit.           

At our August board meeting the education department will give us an overview of Postsecondary Workforce Readiness, and yes, it’s complicated.

Latest News – June 26

Early College Approved for High School 

Earlier this month at the June 14 Colorado State Board of Education meeting, state officials approved the Lake County School District’s (LCSD) application to begin an early college at Lake County High School (LCHS).  

Lake County High School

Early College approval for Leadville high school brings more options to the table for local students and parents’ school choice. Photo: Leadville Today.

“We have been working hard over the past few years to ensure that a greater number of LCHS students have access to concurrent enrollment at Colorado Mountain College (CMC),” stated School Superintendent Dr. Wendy Wyman. 

And so another carrot is added to the school choice plate. There’s no doubt for Leadville high school students, the opportunity to graduate with a h.s. diploma as well as an associate degree is highly attractive, both financially and academically. On average, tuition for public two-year colleges costs $3,000/year, which doesn’t include room and board. Calculate the final price tag and the pot is sweetened significantly for students choosing to stay local and graduate from high school in Leadville.

For readers unfamiliar with the early college program, Leadville Today reached out to State Board of Education, Third Congressional District Representative Joyce Rankin for details. She provided the following statute:

Per §22-35-103(10)(g), the State Board can designate a secondary school as an early college.  Early colleges as designated by §22-35-103(10) means a secondary school that provides only a curriculum that is designed in a manner that ensures that a student who successfully completes the curriculum will have completed either an associate’s degree or sixty credits toward the completion of a postsecondary credential.


Lake County High School has partnered with Colorado Mountain College to provide Early College, adding one more carrot to the school choice plate. Go Panthers! Photo: Leadville Today/Wayne Thomas.

“We have already had a number of students earn their associate degrees while also earning their high school diploma,” explained Wyman. 

So how does it work? The early college will support 11th and/or 12th grade students who are interested in pursuing their associate degree along with their high school diploma.  The program is aligned with our updated graduation requirements and will continue to increase access to higher education.  

According to Dr. Wyman, the new LCSD graduation requirements are built on three components:

  1. Each student will create an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP);
  2. Students will participate in a core sequence of courses in 9th and 10th grades; and
  3. Students will have ample time for ICAP-driven courses, college coursework and career exploration in 11th and 12th grades.

The Early College will be housed at the LCHS campus. Students who are enrolled will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree or 60 hours of college coursework.  Combine that with the impressive list of scholarships that is distributed at Class Day every May ($437,000 in 2017) and the school choice plate just got a whole lot more colorful with all those delicious orange carrots of higher education stacked up, waiting for Back To School, which is only weeks away! Enjoy the rest of your summer until then!