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Graduation Guidelines

The Crestone Charter School’s Graduation Requirements

The CCS uses a system of Proficiency-Based Learning to ensure that all graduating students have the skills, knowledge, and mindset that will help them to succeed, thrive, and create a positive impact wherever their lives take them.

Beyond the Conventional Expectations


Under the convention model of American public schools, high school students typically earn credits for each class they “pass.” Passing usually equates to spending a certain number of hours in the classroom, and then receiving a C-average or better. The problem with this model is that credits don’t necessarily reflect student learning and achievement. While some seniors graduate with outstanding skills, others graduate by simply meeting the minimum grade requirements. According to the Colorado Department of Higher Education, nearly 40% of high school graduates need academic remediation in at least one subject before they are ready for college-level work. A typical high school diploma proves that a graduate has earned sufficient credits, but does it accurately reflect student learning?


CCS’s model of Proficiency-Based Learning, by contrast, challenges all students to find meaningful and creative ways to demonstrate their competency in all targeted learning areas before they are awarded a diploma. Since students need to show what they’ve learned before they graduate, the focus is on the learning (not just spending time in the classroom and earning the minimum test scores to pass).


Proficiency-Based Learning is not a one-size-fits-all approach to education. CCS offers high school students an opportunity to forge their own learning path by designing projects and learning experiences that allow them to demonstrate their mastery of essential skills and knowledge in ways that challenge and inspire them.


Proficiency-Based Learning is not time-based. CCS students do not receive course credits based on the number of hours of instruction they





sit through, but rather on the skills and understanding, they are able to demonstrate. Students who have the skills and motivation to work at an accelerated pace are able to graduate early, while students who fall behind the recommended pace are able to receive the help and support they need.

Proficiency Based Diplomas


Beginning in 2021, CCS will be awarding proficiency-based diplomas to high school graduates. A proficiency-based diploma is a guarantee that CCS graduates have demonstrated the essential academic skills and knowledge needed to meet their future professional or academic goals. It also guarantees that graduates have demonstrated proficiency in CCS’s broad Core Values Learning Targets, which foster the self-awareness, creativity, curiosity, and service-oriented growth mindset necessary to succeed in life and to offer their unique gifts to the world.

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