(June 5) – A bill by Rep. Mike Weissman to change the way that the state tracks the graduation rate of students in the Accelerating Students through Concurrent Enrollment (ASCENT) program was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper this afternoon.

“As post-secondary education becomes more important but less affordable, ASCENT gives students a leg up,” said Rep. Weissman, D-Aurora. “By allowing students to make progress toward or even complete a two-year degree or certificate while still enrolled in high school, ASCENT makes higher education available sooner and at a greatly reduced cost to students. Students and schools should be rewarded for participating in ASCENT, and this bill recognizes the achievements of students who worked hard to prepare for their career and educational goals.”

The ASCENT concurrent enrollment program allows students to remain enrolled in high school while taking postsecondary courses, which increases the percentage of students pursuing postsecondary education and decreases the number of students who do not complete high school. This is also an effective tool for students to reduce their debt burden if they decide to pursue additional higher education.

However, under current state law, ASCENT concurrent enrollment students are not considered to have graduated until the end of the program, which can end up penalizing a school and school district for artificially driving down their graduation rates.

HB17-1294 fixes that glitch and clarifies that students who participate in the program are counted in their school’s graduation rate in the year in which they complete the high school graduation requirements.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, students participating in concurrent enrollment programs, such as ASCENT, are 23 percent more likely to enroll in college and 10 percent less likely to need remediation.

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