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Jeffco class of 2021 to have new graduation requirements

Jeffco Schools students in the class of 2021 and beyond must meet new, more rigorous graduation requirements to earn a high school diploma. The changes are in response to a Colorado Department of Education (CDE) mandate that standardizes graduation expectations throughout Colorado.

Currently, students must earn 23 credit hours in designated content areas, including English language arts, math, science, history, and electives to graduate. Those requirements will remain in place for this year’s high school seniors, who will graduate in 2020.

However, all remaining high schoolers — students in the class of 2021 and beyond — must earn 23 credit hours and also “demonstrate knowledge” in English and math. To do so, students must achieve a specific score on a standardized test or successfully complete college-level courses, industry certifications in both subjects, or complete a capstone project.

Credit hours and demonstration of knowledge will be required to earn a diploma, though the options students have to demonstrate knowledge will vary depending on the high school.

The new ‘demonstrate knowledge’ requirement

Jeffco students will be able to demonstrate knowledge for graduation in 10 different ways, either through testing or through successful completion of certain types of projects or programs.

Testing options include the Accuplacer Next, ACT or SAT, ACT Work Keys, appropriate Advanced Placement (AP) tests, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), or International Baccalaureate (IB) tests.

Alternately, students may also demonstrate knowledge by earning a passing grade in a concurrent enrollment course, by completing a district capstone project in English and math, or by completing an industry certificate in English and math.

If students choose to demonstrate knowledge through a test-based option, they will need to meet or exceed the following scores:


  • Accuplacer Next: 241 in reading or 236 in writing
  • ACT – 18
  • ACT Work Keys – Bronze
  • AP – 2
  • ASVAB – 31
  • IB – 4
  • SAT – 470


  • Accuplacer Next – 255 in Arithmetic or 230 in Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra, and Statistics
  • ACT – 19
  • ACT Work Keys – Bronze
  • AP – 2
  • ASVAB – 31
  • IB – 4
  • SAT – 500

“Work with your high schools to understand the menu of options available at your school,” said Matt Flores, Jeffco Schools Chief Academic Officer. Flores added that parents should start talking with their children about career options early.

The district has spent three years preparing for the change, Flores said. This included working with schools to create tools and resources for each option, and facilitating training for capstone projects so schools can support students who choose that option.

Flores added that support was provided so each Jeffco high school could customize how it then supports students in these graduation requirements.

Graduation credit requirements remain the same

The 23-credit requirement that students currently need to meet for graduation will remain the same. To graduate, students need to earn the following credits in each content area:

  • English language arts – 4
  • Math – 3
  • Science – 3
  • Social studies – 3.5
  • Physical education – 0.5
  • Fine/practical arts – 0.5
  • Electives – 8.5

Change ensures consistent graduation requirements throughout Colorado

CDE required all school districts to update their graduation requirements to meet the changing demands of the state’s college and workforce readiness. Districts were allowed to select multiple ways that students could demonstrate knowledge from a menu of options.

Jeffco Schools has more information about the new graduation requirements on its website, including answers to frequently asked questions. A video about the requirements is also available on the graduation requirements page.

Sally Kate Tinch

Sally Kate Tinch is a mom of two Jeffco Schools students and has lived in Jeffco since 2013. Sally Kate earned her BS in Health Sciences from Texas A&M University, and previously worked as an IT project manager and consultant. She currently works for the Boulder Valley School District. She enjoys yoga, hiking and writing, and lives in the mountains with her family and neurotic spaniel. Please visit our "About Us" page to learn more about Sally Kate and our other writers.

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