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Competency Menu

As you near graduation, we want to make sure a DPS diploma means you are prepared to be successful in any path you choose — whether that’s the workforce after graduation, continued training for specialized industry certifications or going to college. Starting with our Class of 2021 and every graduating class after that, we have new graduation requirements.

Illustration of ICAP, Coursework, and Competency

What does it mean to demonstrate competency?

It means being able to show that you’ve learned certain skills, abilities and concepts, and that you are able to apply them in the real world. You not only understand an idea or skill, you are also able to build on what you’ve been taught, and even feel comfortable explaining it to others.

With any college work or job in your future, you will be asked to prove what you know, so in DPS we start that skill early.

Why is it important?

Our new graduation requirements mirror what is expected for our students to be successful in college, career training or the workplace. In Colorado, 53% of students in two-year colleges and 20% of students in four-year colleges have to take remedial courses, which are designed to catch up struggling students by helping them build core skills before they are able to take college-level courses. Not only does this mean a longer timeline toward degree completion, intensifying the potential for dropout, but it also means students incur additional tuition fees and debt.

Our new graduation requirements are here to make sure students are ready for college and jobs after high school. We want you to feel prepared and confident for your future!

How can a student demonstrate competency?

In order to graduate from DPS, every student will demonstrate competency in English, math and/or career readiness by completing one or more items in the competency menu (scroll down to see the list of options).

There are lots of ways to show what you’ve learned in school, which is why we created a flexible menu of options to demonstrate competency in English, math and career readiness.

Two high school students sitting at desks with laptops

Break it down for me, what are the options?

We encourage you to dig into the many options and decide which one may be the right fit for you. In general, the college readiness measures like ACT, SAT and Accuplacer are aligned to the standards set by Colorado colleges and universities; however, each college or university may have unique admissions standards, so it’s important for students and families to work with school counselors and other school staff to understand individual requirements.

For any questions related to specific college admissions requirements, please talk to your school counselor and college advisor, as scores on state tests or transfer of credits may differ from the DPS menu below.

ACCUplacer

Taken on a computer, Accuplacer is a multiple-choice exam that tests students’ math, reading, writing and computer abilities to ensure they are placed in a college class that matches their skill levels. Accuplacer serves as a diagnostics test for students, as it gives them a full picture of academic strengths and weaknesses. Accuplacer qualifying scores achieved in 10th grade and above may be used toward fulfilling graduation requirements.

The lowest possible score on the exam is 20 and the highest possible score is 120.
Note: The Accuplacer assessment and scoring scale will likely change after 2018.
ENGLISH QUALIFYING SCORE

95

SENTENCE SKILLS

MATH QUALIFYING SCORE

61

ELEMENTARY
ALGEBRA

ACT (American College Testing)

The ACT is a national college entrance exam that measures four subjects: English, reading, math and science. DPS does not provide ACT testing for students. Students who take the ACT independently and meet the minimum requirements for graduation may provide verification of their exam results to their high school.

The highest possible score for each subject is 36.
ENGLISH QUALIFYING SCORE

18

MATH QUALIFYING SCORE

19

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams

Advanced Placement (AP) classes are college-level classes you can take in high school. At the end of the semester, students are encouraged to take the AP exam, which tests how they perform at the college level.

Scores range from 1 to 5. If a student gains a score of 2 on a qualifying exam, they earn competency. NOTE: Most colleges only give college credit for exam scores of 3 or higher. Assessment and exam results that arrive after a student’s senior year may not be applied toward the competency menu of options. For example, AP exam results received in the summer following a student’s senior year will not qualify toward earning a diploma if that student is a four-year graduate.  
ENGLISH QUALIFYING SCORE

2

MATH QUALIFYING SCORE

2

Concurrent Enrollment

Concurrent Enrollment allows students to simultaneously earn college and high school credits. Students are able to enroll in college courses for free, saving them both time and money.

Available at all DPS high schools, as well as select charter schools, many Concurrent Enrollment credits are transferable to a two- or four-year degree program.
ENGLISH QUALIFYING SCORE

C-

OR HIGHER IN ELIGIBLE COURSE

MATH QUALIFYING SCORE

C-

OR HIGHER IN ELIGIBLE COURSE

DPS Capstone

With the Capstone option, students build a portfolio of work throughout their high school experience to show what they’ve learned and how it applies in the real world. It allows students and educators to monitor progress over time, and students get valuable feedback as they fine-tune their portfolio. Capstone is another way for students to demonstrate competency and standards mastery in English, math and/or career readiness through student products and a body of evidence. The DPS Capstone is a portfolio of a student’s best work that demonstrates they have met grade level academic competencies and/or career readiness competencies, including industry certifications, required for graduation.

For students who elect a Capstone Portfolio to fulfill the competency requirement, schools will help students track their progress. Assessment and exam results that arrive after a student’s senior year may not be applied toward the competency menu of options. For example, IB exam results received in the summer following a student’s senior year will not qualify toward earning a diploma if that student is a four-year graduate.
ENGLISH AND MATH
QUALIFYING SCORES

DPS APPROVED
ARTIFACTS

International Baccalaureate (IB)

IB schools focus on international perspectives of learning and teaching, while supporting students in fully exploring their home culture and language. IB programs help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills that prepare students for success in a rapidly globalizing world.

Students enrolled in the IB Diploma Programme will take exams to test competencies. In addition to fulfilling the competency requirement, students can also earn credits or advanced standing at most U.S. colleges and universities.
ENGLISH QUALIFYING SCORE

4

MATH QUALIFYING SCORE

4

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)

The SAT exam shows colleges how prepared you are for college by measuring key skills in math, evidence-based reading and writing, and an optional essay.

It is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale, with a “perfect” score being 1,600. The SAT is offered seven times each year. DPS administers the exam each April for free to all 11th graders. DPS also offers a free online SAT practice program through Khan Academy.
ENGLISH QUALIFYING SCORE

470

MATH QUALIFYING SCORE

500

ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate

ACT WorkKeys is an assessment that tests students’ job skills in applied reading, writing, mathematics and 21st-century skills. Scores are based on job profiles that help employers select, hire, train, develop and retain a high-performance workforce.

Students who score at the bronze level (at least 3) on the three WorkKeys Assessments for Applied Math, Workplace Documents and Graphic Literacy earn the ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate. DPS does not provide ACT WorkKeys testing. Students pursuing this option may find a local assessment center (e.g., CCD, EGTC, etc).
ENGLISH AND MATH
QUALIFYING SCORES

BRONZE OR HIGHER

ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery)

ASVAB is a comprehensive test that traditionally helps determine students’ eligibility for careers in the military; however, the assessment is an option for students even if they don’t plan to enlist in the military. ASVAB tests arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension and mathematics knowledge.

To count the ASVAB toward the DPS career ready competency demonstration, students must complete the assessment in a manner that meets eligibility for military enlistment. In practice, this means that a student must be 17 years old, complete the ASVAB in English, and score a composite score of 31 or higher.

This assessment is free and may be administered to a student multiple times.
ENGLISH AND MATH
QUALIFYING SCORES

31 (COMPOSITE)

Learn about the other graduation requirements:

ICAP »
Coursework »