Legislators Propose 13th Grade For Colorado Students

Democrats on the front range are proposing something a little different for high school students. A new bill would ask students to trade one year of high school for two years of college.

Just as the legislative session is opening up, lawmakers are proposing a plan that would allow Colorado students to pursue a fifth year of high school, at the end of which they would receive both a high school diploma and an associates degree. Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff says "this is one of the most creative proposals we've got to improve public education. It will reduce the drop out rate and bring college within reach to more children."

The idea is that students can take classes at a community college, while completing high school. Supporters of the bill say this program is important for two reasons: students are introduced to college at a time when the high school support systems are still around and the other is finances.

Romanoff says, "For a lot of kids the thought of going to college is a pretty distant dream. We can make it a reality if were willing to put our money where our mouth is. Colorado right now is has one of the highest drop out rates in the nation. A lot of kids figure there's no point in finishing high school if you're never going to get to go to college, so they head out early. We can do better than that."

The idea of partnering high schools with colleges is something schools on the western slope are already doing. Jeff Kirtland spokesperson for District 51 says he does not know the details of the legislation being proposed on the front range, but he is aware of the problem colleges are facing having to provide remedial classes to college students. That's why Mesa State College, School District 51 and Western Colorado Community College have teamed up to combat this issue.

If this legislation passes, Romanoff says legislators are going to split the resources that fund this program through the K-12 system and the higher education system. He's hoping the legislation can come up with a plan to make this opportunity available to more students.