We are particularly grateful to our bipartisan legislative champions, including Sens. Paul Lundeen (R), Jeff Bridges (D), Rachel Zenzinger (D), Mark Baisley (R), Janice Marchman (D), Janet Buckner (D), Barbara Kirkmeyer (R), and Reps. Shannon Bird (D), Don Wilson (R), Cathy Kipp (D), Matthew Martinez (D), Rose Pugliese (R), and House Speaker Julie McCluskie (D).

This year at the Capitol, Colorado Succeeds grounded our advocacy in three distinct policy goals:

Colorado Succeeds partnered with a diverse coalition of stakeholders to pass HB23-1241, which created a task force of 26 stakeholders to make recommendations for how the accountability system could better achieve its goals while ensuring the transparent and comparable performance information students, families and educators need to support continuous improvement. Two bills that could have undermined the goals of a consistent and transparent system failed.

Recognizing that transportation is a major barrier to students accessing high-quality education options, Colorado Succeeds worked with partners to champion SB23-094 to study it. The school transportation task force will help us better understand how transportation impacts equitable access to career-connected learning opportunities, among other important transportation issues.

Finally, this year’s legislature invested an additional $10M in state-authorized charter schools, to ensure funding is aligned with student needs, rather than school governance models. Funding for the Charter School Institute now sits at $27M.

Colorado Succeeds worked with the Association of General Contractors to pass SB23-065 which invests $9.5 million annually for ten years to help high school students get industry-recognized credentials or work-based learning opportunities through the Career Development Success Program. This move creates long-term stability and sufficient funding for what was previously a $1 million pilot program that has already transformed high-school career-connected learning.

Our state has spent the last 10+ years focusing on the science of reading, HB23-1231 puts the state on a path towards improving math outcomes for students by creating resources for teachers and parents to provide math instruction, and funding after-school programming that use evidence-based models to help students advance their math skills.

The 2023 School Finance Act invests an additional $1,000 in each student attending Colorado’s public schools. It also requires a task force to create recommendations for changing the state’s funding formula to be based more heavily on the unique needs of learners, rather than the characteristics of the school district. This could create additional resources for students who live in poverty, have special needs, or are learning English as a second language.

With the passage of HB23-1246 the state invested $40 Million to allow students to access high-need, short-term credentials at Community, Area District, and Technical Colleges at zero cost. Also, a new Universal High School Scholarship created by SB23-205 will provide qualifying students funding to pursue high-need credential pathways. These programs provide direct funding to students, center on industry needs, and fund short-term and non-traditional paths often overlooked by traditional financial aid, critical priorities for Succeeds.

Two bills, SB23-007 and SB23-003, will significantly expand resources for 300,000 adults in Colorado without a high school diploma to access the education they need to pursue credentials aligned to our state’s labor market.

Finally, SB23-087 eliminates unnecessary licensing barriers and paves the way for individuals without a bachelor’s degree to become a teacher through an apprenticeship.

Colorado Succeeds proudly advocates for equitable access to high-quality education. With the support of our legislative champions, we made significant strides in moving forward an agenda based on continuous learning from the field.