Kindergarteners work together during a reading intervention session Wednesday, January 23, 2019 in Katie Hoiland's kindergarten classroom at Aragon Elementary in Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Colorado passed a law last year intended to ensure that every teacher who works with early elementary children has training on the best ways to teach reading. 

But as the State Board of Education considers what types of training qualify, some advocates fear the rules are too vague and don’t spell out how reading courses will be vetted. 

The teacher training requirement, part of a package of rules to come out of a law passed last spring to update the state’s 2012 landmark reading law, reflects a growing push in Colorado and the nation to boost reading proficiency by better training and supporting teachers. The State Board will discuss the rules Wednesday and likely will take a final vote in March. 

Under the proposed rule, the state has laid out several ways K-3 teachers can meet the new requirement, including passing a test, completing certain kinds of training, or earning a master’s degree in reading. Teachers may also earn credit for reading courses they passed in college — a sticking point for some advocates because state experts and national groups recently have questioned the quality of some of those classes. 

Asked how state education department staff will determine which classes at which teacher prep programs satisfy the requirements, a department spokesman said in an email that they’ll decide once teachers submit documents about the class they took, such as the course syllabi, their transcript, and proof they passed the final exam. 

Critics say that kind of case-by-case internal review leaves the public in the dark about what gets the state’s stamp of approval and what doesn’t. 

“There’s just so many moving parts and gray areas in all of that,” said Karin Johnson, a Littleton parent and co-chair of the group COKID, which advocates for students with dyslexia.