Colorado State Profile

Colorado Department of Education (CDE)
Denver, CO

Colorado Community College System
Denver, CO

Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE)
Denver, CO

Colorado Education Initiative (CEI)
Denver, CO

Colorado Succeeds
Denver, CO

Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC)
Denver, CO

The Attainment Network
Denver, CO

Canon City High School
Canon City, CO

Durango School District 9-R
Durango, CO

St. Vrain Valley School District
Longmont, CO

Thompson School District
Loveland, CO

Educational and Workforce Landscape

Secondary K–12

Governed by:
Colorado Department of Education (CDE)

Public school enrollment K–12:
886,517 (2021–22)

School Districts: 178

Public school enrollment 9–12:
280,613 (2021–22)

Graduation rate: 82.3% (2021–22)

CTE Participation rate:
38% of all students (2021–22)

CTE graduation rate: 98%


Governed by:

  • CO Commission on Higher Ed
  • CO Dept of Higher Education
  • CO Community College System

Enrollment/Completion Data:

Number by Type of Schools

  • 2-year Public Community College: 15
  • Dual Mission Public Institution: 1
  • 4-year Public University: 12
  • 4-year Private University: 26
  • Area Technical Colleges: 3

Public College Source:


Workforce Agency:

  • Workforce Development Council
  • Office of the Future of Work

Top Industries/Jobs:
In 2022

  • Computer
  • Engineering
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Bio Techs
  • Environmental Scientists
  • Clinical Counselors

Job Openings to Worker Ratio
Colorado has more than two job openings for every unemployed worker

Points of Interest

Recently, Colorado made its Accelerating Students through Concurrent Enrollment (ASCENT) program available to all students. This means all Colorado students who meet eligibility requirements have the option to stay enrolled for a fifth year and earn college credit at no tuition cost to them or their families. Additionally, the state just reauthorized the Career Development Success Program for 10 years. This program provides $10 Million in incentive funding each year to districts when students graduate with a career-connected learning experience or industry-recognized credential.

In 2022, Colorado invested $26 million in Care Forward which allows students to access zero-cost short term healthcare credentials that the state needs. In 2023, the state built on this program investing more than $38 million to support zero-cost short-term credentials in other high-demand areas, including construction trades (including apprenticeships), education, fire, forestry, law enforcement, and nursing.

In 2022 Colorado invested $90 million to support the Opportunity Now grant program designed to transform Colorado’s workforce through regional grants that illustrate partnership across employers and education providers and help match Coloradans with in-demand jobs that pay a living wage. The program is opening its second round and is suspected to seed education innovation across the state.

College & Career Pathways Successes

Shared Goals

The Secondary, Postsecondary and Work-based Learning Integration Task Force was created during the 2022 legislative session to develop and recommend policies, laws and rules to support the equitable and sustainable expansion and alignment of programs that integrate secondary, postsecondary and work-based learning opportunities in every region of the state. Fundamental to this taskforce is the goal that all Colorado Students graduate with a head-start via a career-connected learning experience, industry credential or meaningful progress to a postsecondary credential.

The state currently has around nine different programs where learners can earn college credits and
quality credentials in high school and a key goal of the taskforce is streamlining these programs while also ensuring that the state has the infrastructure to measure outcomes, recognize credit and make it easy for students to navigate career-connected pathways.

Recent Legislative Wins

  • HB22-1215 created The Secondary, Postsecondary and Work-based Learning Integration Task Force was created to help transform the pathways experience for students in Colorado and “Blur” the lines from K12 into the workforce.
  • SB23-065 expanded the Career Development Incentive Program (CDIP).
  • HB23-1212 created a navigator program to promote apprenticeships to high school programs, and provided funding to update the Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) rules.
  • SB22-192 invested $1 million in helping the state create postsecondary pathways in high-demand, high-wage fields.
  • HB22-1350 invested $90 million in regional grants that will bring industry and higher education together to meet workforce needs.
  • SB22-140 invested $3 million for employer incentives to initiate and scale high-quality work-based learning opportunities for adults and youth.
  • HB22-1349 invested $3 million for the creation of a postsecondary student success data system, including workforce success measures, like employment outcomes and earnings.
  • SB23-094 created a new school transportation task force that will study a major barrier to students accessing high-quality education options, including career-connected learning in high school.
  • SB21-106 created Path4ward, a pilot program that gives high schoolers the flexibility and resources to personalize their fourth year to achieve their postsecondary goals.
  • SB21-216 created the Innovative Learning Pilot to offer their 9th through 12th grade high school students a variety of learning experiences that usually occur outside of the classroom without impacting a students full-time status as a student.

Other Key Programs

  • The Career Development Incentive Program, passed as a pilot in 2016, provides incentives for school districts to help students graduate with industry-recognized credentials. The 2023 expansion offers 9.5 Million for 20-years.
  • The Concurrent Enrollment Act, originally created in 2009, provides 9th-12th grade high school learners to enroll in postsecondary academic or CTE courses and earn high school and college credit at no tuition cost. Thanks to 2022 legislation, any student accumulating enough credits can qualify for a fifth year to enroll in free postsecondary coursework under the ASCENT program.
  • Teacher Recruitment Education and Preparation (TREP) allows qualified learners to concurrently enroll in courses in a teaching career pathway for the 5th and 6th years of high school.
  • Colorado law supports Early Colleges, which require learners to enroll in and complete secondary and postsecondary courses while enrolled in high school, allowing students to graduate with at least 60 credits toward their postsecondary education and/or an associate’s degree.
  • Colorado law supports P-TECH programs, which require partnerships with industry and include up to 6 years of high school and are designed to prepare learners for high-demand careers in industry by enabling them to graduate with a high school diploma and an industry-recognized associate degree.

Learn more about how these programs work together.

Goals and Priorities for Launch

Colorado wishes to participate in this Initiative mainly because our Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 22-1215, which created the Secondary, Postsecondary and Work-Based Learning Integration Task Force. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is leading the task force in partnership with the Colorado Department of Higher Education (including specific representation from Career and Technical Education) and the Colorado Workforce Development Council. The task force membership is outlined in state statute, and our partners (the Colorado Education Initiative, the Attainment Network and CareerWise) are also part of the task force.

The task force must look at nine programs in order to “Design and recommend comprehensive, uniform policies that encourage and empower high schools and postsecondary institutions to create and sustain secondary, postsecondary, and work-based learning integration programs in every region of the state.” This includes suggesting a sustainable financial model, as well as strengthening school counseling and looking at program quality standards. Participation in the Initiative has helped the partnership increase equity by providing equitable access for all students to all programs and opportunities that would be offered along the Colorado Work-Based Learning Continuum. We have been able to get input directly from students and families, so we can identify challenges students face in accessing and completing credentials through secondary, postsecondary, and work-based learning integration programs, and recommend ways to address and reduce these challenges. We also pulled, analyzed and shared demographic, geographic and financial data as part of this work. We hope that, through this Initiative, we are able to design the best possible system, which includes a fair amount of system/program redesign. The ability to collaborate with other innovative states that will be part of this Initiative and the opportunity to talk with national leaders in this work such as Advance CTE, the Education Strategy Group and Jobs for the Future, will help to strengthen the task force’s recommendations.

Local District Profiles

Thompson School District

Urbanacity (enrollment, geography, demographics):

(70% White, non Hispanic, 30% Hispanic. Mainly middle-class community with pockets of high and lower economic demographic families)

Defining characteristics/points of interest:

We have a District Career Tech Center that has partnerships with the community college in the area to offer students opportunities in Nursing/Health Care, Cybersecurity/IT System Administration, Construction and Manufacturing. We offer many CTE pathways at our high schools and have forged many community partnerships variety of stakeholders.

Launch provides an opportunity to get different stakeholders from a variety of states together to help shift education toward providing more relevant, equitable and and accessible career and college pathways for all students while in high school. Thompson School District has the opportunity to share with the nation the innovative programs and opportunities that we are providing students to accelerate and launch their careers earlier than ever before.

Mike Pintaric,
Loveland High School technology, engineering and robotics teacher

Cañon City Schools

Urbanacity (enrollment, geography, demographics):

1,000 students (24% minority populations; large rural w/50% FRL)

Defining characteristics/points of interest:

For 7 years, CCS is a state leader in integrated career pathways programs: Top 10 EC school, Top 2 CDIP School, #1 rural internship program, Top 5 Capstone school, participates in 100% of postsecondary support programs.

Pathways are equity.

Bill Summers, Principal at Canon City HS

Durango School District

Urbanacity (enrollment, geography, demographics):

4,400 Students (Approximately 40% FRL, 33% Minority)

Defining characteristics/points of interest:

Our students are career bound, with various paths to get them to their dreams, and we’re in the middle of flexing and redesigning our systems to set every student up for their launch after HS.

We are passionate about helping students find what they love to do, get good at what they love, and explore ways that they can make a positive impact on the world, all while finding out how they can make a living wage while doing those things.

Dylan Connell,
Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

St. Vrain Valley School District

Urbanacity (enrollment, geography, demographics):

31,000 students (38% minority populations; 28% FRL)

Defining characteristics/points of interest:

Home to Colorado’s first Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program. The district also has other pathways programs, including Pathways to Teaching (P-TEACH), Career Elevation and Technology Center, work-based learning Innovation Center.

St. Vrain Valley Schools, in partnership with Workforce Boulder, Boulder Chamber, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Weld RE-3J School District, Estes Park School District, University of Colorado Denver, Colorado Education Initiative, Mogli, Salesforce, Cisco, Elevation Solutions, PTA Plastics, McKesson, and Eplexity, was awarded a $7M investment in career pathways through the state of Colorado’s Opportunity Now grant.

The Breakthrough Pathways project is the culmination of more than a decade of work to create a strong, competitive advantage for St. Vrain Valley Schools students and, by extension, our families, community, state, and nation. We are very grateful to this incredible group of partners, which will build on our existing programming and support the most comprehensive public education workforce readiness system in the country. With an impact across multiple communities, including rural areas, we are proud to receive this award and lead our nation’s next advanced manufacturing, teaching, and technology workforce.

Dr. Don Haddad, St. Vrain Valley Schools Superintendent

Reference Links and More Information

Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Office of Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness webpage

  • CDE District and School Dashboard, which includes high school graduation, dropout, and matriculation rates
  • H.B. 22-1215 Secondary, Postsecondary and Work-Based Learning Integration Task Force webpage and interim report
  • Colorado Department of Higher Education District At A Glance, which includes concurrent enrollment and CTE rates, and 2022 Pathways to Prosperity Report
  • Colorado CTE webpage (CO Community College System)
  • Colorado Workforce Development Council Work-Based Learning Resources and 2022 Talent Pipeline Report
  • Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Apprenticeship Resource Directory
  • Contact with questions: Danielle Ongart (, Michelle Romero ( and Libuse Binder (

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