The bill makes changes to the assistance programs that are designed to increase the number of educators within the state, especially in rural school districts, by:
- Expanding the educator loan forgiveness program by making it available to individuals who graduate from any preparation program that leads to educator licensure and removing the limitation of no more than 100 new participants per year;
- Clarifying that a stipend provided to teacher candidates in rural areas does not constitute student financial assistance;
- Clarifying that a teaching fellow may choose to have a teaching fellowship program stipend awarded as student financial assistance or wages for employment;
- Authorizing stipends for teachers employed by a rural school, rural school district, or rural board of cooperative services who seek additional license endorsements or a master's degree to meet a faculty need; and
- Specifying percentages for allocating funding among various programs that provide stipends for teacher candidates, teachers completing alternative licensing programs, and teachers in rural school districts.
The bill amends the program requirements that the department of higher education and the Colorado commission on higher education (commission) must review when approving educator preparation programs (programs). Under existing law, following a review, the commission may approve a program, place the program on probation status, or terminate the program. The bill adds the option of granting the program conditional approval and directs the commission to adopt policies regarding how long a program may remain on conditional approval or probation and how a program is moved from one approval level to another. A program that receives conditional approval may continue accepting new students, but a program on probationary status cannot accept new students.
Under existing law, the state board of education (state board) reviews the content of educator preparation programs to ensure the content prepares teachers to meet the teacher quality standards and qualify for licensure. The bill clarifies that the state board, based on the content review, may recommend that an educator preparation program be placed on conditional approval or probation and that the commission must work with the state board in determining the status of educator preparation programs.
The bill requires the department of higher education, by October 1, 2020, to post information on the department's website describing the various programs and pathways in Colorado that lead to teacher licensure.
(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)