Colorado lawmakers may expand program that gives college credit in high school

Colorado lawmakers want to expand a program that lets students stay in high school for a fifth year while taking college courses at no cost to them. The hope is that it will increase the number of students who earn a degree.

The proposal calls for eliminating both a 500-student enrollment cap on the program and the requirement that students pay districts if they fail or drop out of classes. The bill would also reduce the number of high school credits students need to participate in the program, called Accelerating Students through Concurrent Enrollment, or Ascent.

Democratic lawmakers state Rep. Mike Weissman and state Sen. Janet Buckner, both of Aurora, and state Rep. Jennifer Bacon of Denver are sponsoring the bill. Weissman said talking with students who said the program helped them pursue a college degree moved him to back the bill.

The bill passed out of the House Education Committee on Thursday in a 6-3 party-line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.