Colorado provides educator qualifications guidance to LEAs

What requirements must teachers and paraprofessionals employed in Title I schools meet under the Every Student Succeeds Act and state mandates?
By: | August 14, 2020
Photo by Stephen Monroe on UnsplashPhoto by Stephen Monroe on Unsplash

The Colorado Department of Education provides guidance for districts and educators on how teachers and paraprofessionals employed in Title I schools must meet certification requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act, Pub. L. No. 114-95, and also state requirements.

Section 1112(c)(6) requires local educational agencies to provide assurances that all teachers and paraprofessionals working in a program supported with Title I, Part A funds meet applicable state certification and licensure requirements, including any requirements for certification obtained through alternative routes to certification.

Under Section 1111(g)(2)(M), a state’s plan must also contain assurances that the state has professional standards for paraprofessionals working in a program supported with funds under this part, including qualifications that were in place on the day before the date of enactment of ESSA.

In Colorado, pursuant to Sections 22-63-201 and 22-32-126 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, license or authorization is required for employment as a teacher, special services provider, or principal in any school district in the state. All licenses and authorizations must be endorsed to indicate the appropriate grade levels and specialization area related to the applicant’s preparation, training, and experience.

Types of Colorado teacher licenses include:

  • Alternative teacher license. Valid for one, two, or three years depending on preparation program duration.
  • Initial license. Valid for three years.
  • Initial Special Services license. Valid for three years.
  • Professional license. Valid for five years.
  • Master certificate. Valid for applicants who hold a valid Colorado professional teacher license and have demonstrated advanced teaching competencies or expertise through the attainment of National Board for Professional Teaching Standard Certification.

Types of Colorado teacher authorizations include:

  • Emergency authorization. Valid for one year, with possible reissue upon approval of State Board of Education.
  • Career and technical authorization. Valid for three years, cannot be renewed.
  • Substitute authorization. Valid for a period of one, three, or five years, when the applicant has met relevant requirements.
  • Others listed under Code of Colorado Regulations 301-37.

According to Colorado statute, school districts retain flexibility for further regulation of paraprofessionals, including certification or licensing, meaning that requirements can vary across LEAs. In general, a paraprofessional working in a Title I program in Colorado may demonstrate qualifications in several ways, including:

  • Completing at least two years of postsecondary study.
  • Obtaining an associate’s or higher degree.
  • Successfully taking an assessment selected by the state or by the employing school district that meets state and federal standards and that demonstrates knowledge of and the ability to assist in instruction of reading, writing, and mathematics.

Claude Bornel covers ELs and other Title I issues for TitleIAdmin.com, a DA sister publication.