The act 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 act 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). With the passage of the act, after reviewing a program, the commission, in addition to approving the program, placing the program on probation status, or terminating the program, may grant the program conditional approval. The commission must 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.
After reviewing the content of a program to ensure the content prepares teachers to meet the teacher quality standards and qualify for licensure, the state board of education (state board) may now recommend that the program be placed on conditional approval or probation. The commission must work with the state board in determining the status of educator preparation programs.
The act 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: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)