Colorado Succeeds and its members worked with courageous legislators, nonprofit partners, and educators to advance The Agility Agenda this year at the Capitol.
With the 2019 legislative session behind us, this is where some of the priority issues landed:
Expanding Work-Based Learning Opportunities
The Career Development Success Program started as a pilot program in 2016 to encourage high school students to complete work-based learning opportunities. We are excited to report that because of strong support at the Capitol the program has received a nearly $3 million increase in this year’s budget. With additional funds, a wider array of workforce credentials will be eligible, and more districts will receive incentive payments for career development programs to reinvest back into expanding opportunities for more students. Thirty-seven districts participated last school year.
Removing Barriers in High School for Greater District Innovation
Limiting where students can learn doesn’t acknowledge that learning happens everywhere. Per pupil funding should not be based on simply how many hours a student is in the school building. Thanks to legislation championed by Senator Jeff Bridges (D) and Representative Shannon Bird (D) – which has been signed into law by Governor Polis – certain districts will now have an opportunity for greater flexibility starting next year. Colorado Succeeds member, Board of Advisors, Sean VanBerschot, President and Partner at Prosono, testified in support of the legislation. During his testimony, he pointed to the Education Leadership Council’s report, vetted by thousands of Coloradans, that recommended the state support more out of school learning opportunities for students. For those districts selected, this bill would eliminate seat-time reporting requirements, and allow all students participating in high-quality experiential learning to be counted as full-time students.
Succeeds also supported legislation this session that would allow local school districts to experiment with different types of accountability measures to supplement required, statewide measures of school accountability. This legislation will allow districts to test additional measures of career and postsecondary readiness. It passed both houses, and now awaits Governor Polis’ signature.
Increasing Access and Rigor in High School
Offering students theability to earn college credit in high school adds value to the traditional model. That is why we supported legislative efforts with other education partners to modernize and expand concurrent enrollment this session. Importantly, this bill includes provisions to support more agile educators by funding more master’s degrees in content areas so that more professionals can teach concurrent enrollment courses. Students win with greater access to these courses and will receive instruction from educators better equipped for deeper learning instruction. The Governor has signed this important bill into law.Colorado Succeeds also supported legislation alongside education partners to provide opportunities for more low-income and minority students to participate in advanced placement classes. Tom Brinegar, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at PEAK Resources, Inc. and member, Board of Advisors, testified in support. We are pleased that Governor Polis has also signed this bill into law.
Building Stronger Pathways to Success for All Students
Colorado Succeeds supported legislation introduced this session that would reward college credit for work experience. Joel Pennick, Vice President at JE Dunn and member, Board of Advisors, testified in support and explained that credit for past work experiences could help decrease remediation and reduce the time until graduation. 400,000 Colorado adults have earned some postsecondary credit but have not earned the corresponding credential. Helping individuals further earn credits would allow more Coloradans to up-skill and be strong contributors to our economy. While this bill passed the House Education Committee by a unanimous vote, due to budgetary constraints it did not move past the House Appropriations Committee. We expect this legislation to come back next year.
Ensuring A Strong Start for All Colorado Students
Colorado Succeeds was proud to be a part of the Full-Day Kindergarten Coalition with over 75 organizations supporting legislation to expand full-day kindergarten for more students in Colorado. This proposal allows an additional 14,000 children to access full-day kindergarten.Succeeds also supported legislation that passed with strong bipartisan support to strengthen the READ Act, which allocates over $40 million to school districts to ensure students receive evidence-based reading instruction, focused on developing foundational reading skills.
Thanks to strong leadership from the Capitol, educators, and nonprofit education partners, Colorado is a better place for our students to flourish.