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Colorado Policy Profile

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Colorado

Teaching Standards and Leadership Standards

Teaching Standards

Is working with and meeting the needs of students with disabilities addressed in state teaching standards?

Quality Standard II of the Colorado Teacher Quality Standards specifically identifies meeting the needs of students with disabilities as a foundational priority for the state’s teachers. Specifically, Element D requires teachers to “adapt their teaching for the benefit of all students, including those with special needs across a range of ability levels.”

Quality Standard II: Teachers establish a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for a diverse population of students. Element D: Teachers adapt their teaching for the benefit of all students, including those with special needs, across a range of ability levels.

Further, the Performance-Based Standards for Colorado Teachers govern the licensing of all teacher education candidates in Colorado and reflect the knowledge and skills required of beginning teachers. Standard 6 specifically addresses the learning needs of students with disabilities.

Standard 6: Knowledge of Individualization of Instruction: The teacher is responsive to the needs and experiences children bring to the classroom, including those based on culture, community, ethnicity, economics, linguistics, and innate learning abilities. The teacher is knowledgeable about learning exceptionalities and conditions that affect the rate and extent of student learning, and is able to adapt instruction for all learners.

6.3 The teacher has demonstrated the ability to: Utilize his/her understanding of educational disabilities and giftedness and their effects on student learning in order to individualize instruction for these students.

Sources:

Colorado Department of Education (CDE), Colorado Teacher Quality Standards

CDE, Performance-Based Standards for Colorado Teachers

School Leadership Standards

Is knowledge of working with students with disabilities included in leader standards?

The Colorado Principal Quality Standards outline the knowledge and skills required for an excellent school principal. While the Standards address principals’ need to create an instructional environment that meets “the needs of all students” and include a specific focus on “equity pedagogy,” they do not specifically address students with disabilities.

However, the Performance-Based Principal Licensure Standards govern the licensing of all principal candidates and reflect the knowledge and skills required of beginning principals. Standard five specifically addresses the learning needs of students with disabilities.

Standard 5: Individualization of Instruction. The principal is knowledgeable about instruction, especially as related to the Colorado Model Content Standards and closing the achievement gap. The principal shall be able to:

  • Exhibit vigilance with regard to the school’s legal obligations and students’ educational rights, including, but not limited to, those requirements that affect special needs.
  • Provide teachers with a wide range of instructional methods and individual education techniques, which match the intellectual, emotional, physical, social levels and learning styles of all students in each classroom – including those with physical or medical conditions, or educational disabilities; or those whose medication may have an effect on learning and behavior; or those who are identified or recognized as gifted.

Sources:

Colorado Department of Education (CDE), Performance-Based Principal Licensure Standards under the Rules for the Administration of the Educator Licensing Act of 1991

CDE, Colorado Principal Quality Standards


Teacher and Principal Preparation

Teacher Preparation – Program Approval/Accreditation

Required course work in teaching students with disabilities/diverse learners

Standards for the Approval of the Program Content of Professional Education and Professional Development of Teachers and Special Service Personnel are based on the Performance-Based Standards for Colorado Teachers.

Standard Six: Knowledge of Individualization of Instruction:

The teacher is responsive to the needs and experiences children bring to the classroom, including those based on culture, community, ethnicity, economics, linguistics and innate learning abilities. The teacher is knowledgeable about learning exceptionalities and conditions that affect the rate and extent of student learning, and is able to adapt instruction for all learners. The teacher has demonstrated the ability to utilize his/her understanding of educational disabilities and giftedness and their effects on student learning in order to individualize instruction for these students.

Source: CCR Title 1, 301-37; Rules for the Administration of the Educator Licensing Act of 1991, Rule2260.5-R-5.06

Clinical time in diverse settings/teaching special populations

Requirements for educator preparation programs do not require clinical time in settings where candidates will necessarily have experience with students with disabilities. They, however, must include:

  • Course work and field-based training that integrates theory and practice and educates candidates in the methodologies, practices, and procedures of standards-based education, and specifically in teaching to the state academic standards; and
  • Each teacher candidate must complete a minimum of 800 hours of supervised field-based experience that relates to predetermined learning standards and includes best practices and national norms related to the candidate’s endorsement.

Sources:

Colorado Revised Statutes§ 23-1-121

Colorado Department of Higher Education, Teacher Education Policy 3.03

Teacher Preparation – Accountability

Quality of teacher preparation programs

The state of Colorado takes the following steps to ensure the quality of teacher preparation programs:

  • Collects objective program-specific data;
  • Makes the data publicly available online; and

Collects some program-specific, objective data that reflect program performance, including student academic growth, educator placement, and educator mobility and retention.

Source: National Council on Teacher Quality, 2012 State Teacher Policy Yearbook: Improving Teacher Preparation in Colorado

Principal Preparation – Program Approval/Accreditation

Required course work in leading a school/district that serves students with disabilities/diverse learners

The state of Colorado does not require specific course work for principals in serving students with disabilities or diverse learners. However, accredited principal preparation programs must meet the Performance-Based Principal Licensure Standards under the Rules for the Administration of the Educator Licensing Act of 1991. The standards require principals to identify student achievement as a primary objective and to promote and facilitate the success of all students. Standard five specifically addresses the needs of students with disabilities.

Standard 5: Individualization of Instruction. The principal is knowledgeable about instruction, especially as related to the Colorado Model Content Standards and closing the achievement gap. The principal shall be able to:

  • Exhibit vigilance with regard to the school’s legal obligations and students’ educational rights, including, but not limited to, those requirements that affect special needs.
  • Provide teachers with a wide range of instructional methods and individual education techniques, which match the intellectual, emotional, physical, social levels and learning styles of all students in each classroom – including those with physical or medical conditions, or educational disabilities; or those whose medication may have an effect on learning and behavior; or those who are identified or recognized as gifted.

Source: Colorado Department of Education, Performance-Based Principal Licensure Standards under the Rules for the Administration of the Educator Licensing Act of 1991

Principal Preparation – Accountability

Are programs reviewed based on outcomes of graduates’ success? Can school principals be linked back to institutions of higher education and preparation programs?

Colorado is at the beginning stages of designing a state system for principal preparation program accountability. Principal preparation, however, along with all other content areas, is reviewed through the five-year reauthorization process that is conducted with the Colorado Department of Higher Education for all IHEs.

Source: Email communication with Colorado Department of Education, July 20, 2014.


Teacher and Principal Certification/Licensure

Teacher Certification/Licensure – Structure

Is a specific certificate, license or endorsement related to special education required?

Colorado does not distinguish between elementary and secondary special education teachers. The state offers only a K-12 certification and an early childhood license. Special education candidates must pass the same elementary education content test as general education elementary teachers. An elementary subject-matter test is required for a K-12 special education license.

Sources:

2012 State Teacher Policy Yearbook: Improving Teacher Preparation in Colorado

National Council on Teacher Quality

Teacher Certification – Examination

Does the state require teachers to pass a basic skills exam for initial certification? What are the pass rates on the exams? Does the state require Praxis II or more pedagogical assessment for licensure? Does it include anything about teaching diverse learners or special populations?

All candidates applying for initial licensure are required to have demonstrated professional competencies in subject areas as specified by rules and regulations of the Colorado State Board of Education by passing a content knowledge assessment in their subject area. Colorado does not require teachers to take any of the Principles of Learning and Teaching exams.

Sources:

Overview of Colorado Testing Requirements, ETS

Colorado Department of Education, Content Tests – Praxis II

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 22-60.5-203 C.R.S.

Teacher Certification/Licensure – Requirements

Is professional development around working with special populations required to move from initial to a professional license?

The state has three-tiered teacher licensure system: Initial, Professional and Master. While there are various requirements for teachers to move from initial to professional to master teacher certification, our state policy review does not suggests any specific professional development requirements around working with special populations.

Colorado offers a Special Service License (which also has three levels: Initial, Professional, Master) that requires the completion of a special service preparation program prior to attaining the Initial Special Services License.

Source: State of Colorado, Types of Licenses under the Rules for the Administration of the Educator Licensing Act of 1991

Principal Certification/Licensure – Requirements

Is prior teaching experience required to become a principal and/or a superintendent? Is specific coursework or other evidence required around working with special populations?

Colorado requires school leader candidates to have prior teaching experience, complete a state-approved preparation program, and pass a test.

Principals: Candidates must hold a baccalaureate degree from an institution of higher education, complete an approved graduate principal preparation program in an institution of higher education, or have completed an alternative principal preparation program. Candidates must also provide documented evidence of three or more years of full-time successful experience as a licensed or unlicensed teacher or special services provider in a public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school in this state or another state.

Administrators: Candidates must complete an approved graduate program for school administration in an institution of higher education, or evidence of partial completion of an approved administration preparation program in each of two or more institutions of higher education, provide documented evidence of three or more years of full-time successful experience as a licensed or certificated professional in a public or non-public elementary or secondary school in this state or another state and pass the State Board-adopted licensing assessments.

Sources:

1 CCR 301-37 Rules 3.03 through 3.04

Operating in the Dark, George W. Bush Institute, 2012


Teacher and Principal Induction

Teacher Induction

Is mentoring required for all new teachers and for how many years? If so, do program guidelines/requirements specifically address teaching diverse learners?

All teachers who hold an initial or special services license must receive induction support. The state does not require a minimum number of years that new teachers must participate in an induction program; school districts can determine the length of induction, up to three years. State approved induction programs may include, but shall not be limited to, supervision by mentor special services providers and ongoing professional development and training, including ethics and performance evaluation. [Colorado Revised Statutes §§ 22-60.5-204 and 22-60.5-213]

Source: New Teacher Center, Review of State Policies on Teacher Induction

Principal Induction

Is coaching/mentoring required for all new principals/administrators/ superintendents and for how many years? If so, do program guidelines/requirements specifically serving diverse learners?

All new school principals and administrators are expected to participate in an induction process. The state does not require a minimum number of years that new administrators must participate in an induction program; school districts can determine the length of induction, up to three years. [Colorado Revised Statutes §§ 22-60.5-304and 22-60.5-309]

Source: New Teacher Center, Review of State Policies on Teacher Induction


Teacher and Principal Professional Development Standards

Teacher Professional Development Standards

Does the state have professional development standards for teacher PD?

The Colorado State Board of Education’s Professional Development Guidelines provide support for the skills and content knowledge advancement of licensed educators working toward renewing their licenses.

In Colorado, ongoing professional development is required for all public school teachers. Professional development is prescribed for two major groups:

  1. Those teachers who are seeking to renew their professional licenses. Documented professional development activities must be presented to the Colorado Department of Education by an applicant for license renewal.
  2. Those teachers who seek and hold Master Certificates. Documented professional development activities must be presented to the Colorado Department of Education by applicants for master certification.

The Colorado State Board of Education recently adopted new rules applying to required professional development activities for educator licensure renewal. In summary, these changes:

  • Require that professional development activities must be related to: increasing the license holder’s competence in his or her existing or potential endorsement content area; increasing the licensee’s skills and competence in delivering instruction in his or her existing or potential endorsement area; or increasing the licensee’s skills and competence in teaching literacy or numeracy.
  • Require that an educator involved in license renewal must complete professional development activities totaling six semester hours or ninety clock hours within the five-year period preceding the date of expiration of the license to be renewed.
  • Stipulate that professional development may include in-service education, or college or university credit from an accepted institution of higher education, or credit from an accepted community, technical, or junior college.
  • Allow educational travel, documented and verified by a supervisor as applicable to the endorsement area of the professional licensee’s license.
  • Permit documented evidence verified by the licensee’s supervisor, of involvement in: school reform, internships and other ongoing professional development training and experiences that apply to the educator’s licensure renewal.

Source: Colorado Professional Development Guidelines

Principal Professional Development Standards

Does the state have professional development standards for leadership PD?

See above. The same policies and rules apply as for teacher professional development.

Source: Colorado Professional Development Guidelines