By 2020, three out of every 4 jobs in Colorado will require education or training beyond high school. Already, Colorado businesses cannot find enough workers to fill jobs in construction, manufacturing, health and technology because students are not prepared to be successful in thousands of available jobs in our state. As a result, the demands on public education have increased to ensure that all students graduate from high school career and college ready to enroll in post secondary institutions, enlist in the military or enter the workforce.
In Colorado, all school districts must now adopt high expectations for what students should know and be able to do. A new state law requires students to demonstrate grade level achievement to qualify for high school graduation. The graduating class of 2021 will be the first class required to demonstrate their readiness in English and math through the approved Colorado graduation menu of demonstration options which each local school board is required to adopt. Students could satisfy one or more of these options by earning minimum scores on state or national tests, passing college-level courses taken during high school, or earning an industry certification.
One of the districts in Colorado that is leading the way with the option of industry certifications as a demonstration of learning both in English and Math is 27J Schools, the sixteenth largest in Colorado (among 178 school districts) in terms of enrollment that serves around 19,450 students whose mission is to equip their students with the tools and knowledge to succeed now and in the future. The district is also working on expanding opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning by opening Career and College Centers by every high school hopefully thanks to the community support. 27J Schools is providing students with opportunities to obtain industry certifications as American Welding Society (AWS) certification, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) from DORA (Department of Regulatory Agencies), Phlebotomist Certification and National Consortium for Health Science Certificate, from the National Healthcare Association,NHA) and Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) and Certificates from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) among others. These certificates will allow students to demonstrate proficiency of knowledge and/or skills as well as employability, and options for postsecondary education. For local, state and national employers, these certificates demonstrate evidence of competencies, consequently supporting hiring practices, what will allow students to be better prepared for the thousands of jobs right now unfilled in our state.
27J students will graduate from high school prepared to be successful in school and in life, earning a living wage and contributing to Colorado’s economy. Their school diploma will prove they are ready to enter work, military, and college.
 Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Work-force (2013)
 Colorado Department of Education