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Colorado Commission on Higher Education releases statewide plan that focuses on serving more learners with programs of value

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DENVER, CO – Feb. 2, 2023: With the support of Gov. Jared Polis and Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) and Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) released a statewide plan focused on advancing the economic mobility of Colorado's learners and earners by aligning postsecondary talent development with industry and statewide needs.

"Colorado wants more learners to complete postsecondary pathways that are valuable and help all learners unlock their economic potential," said CCHE Chair Sarah Hughes. "At a minimum - if learners can’t recover the true cost of attendance over the course of their lifetime we are clearly not doing right by Colorado students. This report marks a shift in culture and a step forward in how we measure student outcomes."

Building Skills in an Evolving Economy sets a bold vision to increase the number of learners being served by the state’s postsecondary ecosystem. The plan prioritizes educational pathways that are economically viable –those that lower costs for students, invest in proven learner support programs, and increase collaboration with employers.

“We know that the primary reason learners pursue a postsecondary education is for career advancement and economic mobility," said Josh Scott, CCHE Vice Chair. “CCHE is therefore updating Colorado’s strategic plan from a focus on credential attainment to ensure that the education investment learners make delivers value.”

Three strategic pillars display progress toward the goal and the opportunities available to institutions, policymakers, and others that affect change. The plan also calls out promising practices by Colorado’s colleges and universities aligned to each of the strategic pillars.  

  • Strategic Pillar #1: Identify and improve pathways with a negative return on investment 
  • Strategic Pillar #2: Focus on equity and enable more learners to succeed 
  • Strategic Pillar #3: Catalyze increased postsecondary/workforce collaboration, alignment, and co-creation of new pathways that offer a positive return on investment 

“The strategic plan will guide our work over the next five years as we strive to make all learning count and build a higher education ecosystem for all,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of CDHE. “We remain committed to erasing equity gaps and ensuring equitable access to earn-and-learn opportunities, work-based learning, career services, and professional connections.”  

Elevating and calculating the value of postsecondary credential completion to the individual will play a central role in the new plan.  Aligned with that goal, HB22-1349 directs CDHE and CCHE to develop new measures of postsecondary and workforce success.  A technical working group appointed by CCHE will work over the course of 2023 to identify new measures, propose methods of calculations, and inform future work to upgrade data systems and establish data connections across state agencies in well-governed, responsible ways. 

About the Colorado Department of Higher Education 
Working with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, we support students, advocate and develop policies to maximize higher education opportunities for all. The Department believes every Coloradan should have an education beyond high school to pursue their dreams and improve our communities. To read the strategic plan for higher education, visit