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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY_ MARCH 13_ 2009 CONTACT

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY_ MARCH 13_ 2009 CONTACT Powered By Docstoc
					FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2009

CONTACT
Evan Dreyer, 720.350.8370, evan.dreyer@state.co.us

 GOV. RITTER, LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE COLORADO
                 ASCENT BILL
AURORA ― Gov. Bill Ritter, legislative leaders and education advocates today
introduced Colorado ASCENT, new bipartisan legislation that will allow high school
students statewide to earn a diploma while simultaneously completing a college
associate’s degree.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Suzanne Williams and Reps. Mike Merrifield and Tom
Massey, establishes a statewide concurrent-enrollment plan that gives high school
students an opportunity to earn a college degree while finishing high school.

“This legislation will be a key addition to Colorado’s nationally recognized education
reform efforts,” Gov. Ritter said. “This is an efficient student-centered concept that will
give kids a reason to stay in school and accelerate their progress toward degrees and
workforce-readiness. It will ensure we continue to have one of the best-educated
workforces in the country, which will be crucial to leading Colorado forward out of the
recession and back onto a path toward sustainable prosperity for all.”

Colorado ASCENT – Accelerating Students through Concurrent ENrollmenT – was
recommended by the Governor’s P-20 Education Council, which is co-chaired by Lt.
Gov. Barbara O’Brien, business leader Michael Gass, and CSU Pueblo President Joe
Garcia. It will build on the bipartisan Senate Bill 07-148 (Fast College/Fast Jobs) by
providing a single, uniform statewide plan that will replace the different plans now in
place in districts around the state.

“We’re providing every high school student in Colorado a chance to go on to college,”
said Rep. Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs. “This is an investment opportunity for our
state. With this investment, we can ensure that our kids will be able to reach their
maximum potential and that we can offer them a prosperous future.”

“This is the single most important piece of education legislation of the session,” said Rep.
Massey, R-Poncha Springs. “As a member of the P-20 Council’s subcommittee on
Preparation and Transition, I understand the importance of concurrent enrollment and
how, in this bill, it ties together all of the pertinent reforms we are attempting to put in
place in Colorado.”
“Too many Colorado students are dropping out and too few are pursuing degrees,” said
Sen. Williams, D-Aurora. “The ASCENT program will make sure Colorado’s workforce
is as strong and bright as Colorado’s students. We need to ensure that our high school
students also become our college graduates.”


Colorado ASCENT Fact Sheet

    Concurrent enrollment programs have existed for many years, but with little state
    coordination, limited attention to quality and cross-system coherence, and little
    accountability. As a result, access to high-quality concurrent enrollment programs
    has been unnecessarily constrained.

    Nonetheless, there is wide agreement that concurrent enrollment programs have the
    potential to create positive financial efficiencies, fulfill Gov. Ritter’s goals of
    doubling the number of degrees and certificates earned by Coloradans and halving
    the high school dropout rate, and advancing the vision for an aligned system of high
    school and college standards and assessments articulated in the Colorado
    Achievement Plan for Kids (CAP4K).

    In following much of the P-20 Education Council’s recommendation on the topic,
    the Colorado ASCENT proposal attempts to chart a new mission for concurrent
    enrollment programs by serving a wider range of students, particularly those that
    represent communities with historically low college participation rates. Colorado
    ASCENT also sets high expectations for all students and will provide the access and
    support to school districts necessary to increase the rigor of high school diplomas
    throughout the state.

    To accomplish this, the Colorado ASCENT bill:

               Leaves current programs unchanged through 2012 but consolidates
           existing concurrent enrollment policies into one uniform, comprehensive
           statute.

              In light of serious budgetary constraints, improves funding mechanisms
           where appropriate to ensure fiscal solvency while improving access.

              Expands eligibility to students enrolled in Career and Technical
           Education and to 12th-gradres enrolled in remedial courses.

              Creates the ASCENT (Accelerating Students through Concurrent
           ENrollmenT) dual-degree or “5th year” program.

               Establishes improved data collection procedures that provide accurate
           and transparent information on enrollment, progress, costs and outcomes.
               Establishes common standards for enrollment, data, governance and
           finance.

               Opens enrollment to all academically eligible students and removes
           arbitrary enrollment restrictions based on age or grade.

              Creates a nine-person advisory council with multiple K-12 and higher
           education stakeholders to oversee the development and improvement of
           concurrent enrollment programs.

Colorado ASCENT Endorsements

Business and Workforce:
Economic Development Council of Colorado
Colorado Workforce Development Council
Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Education:
P-20 Education Coordinating Council
Colorado STEM Network / Colorado Math, Science, Technology and Engineering
Education Coalition (COMSTEC)

K-12 Education:
Education Commissioner Dwight Jones
Colorado Association of School Executives
Colorado Association of School Boards

Higher Education:
Colorado Community College System
Colorado Commission on Higher Education
Colorado Department of Higher Education
College In Colorado

General:
Bell Policy Center

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