This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.
Colorado will stick to an August deadline for early elementary teachers to complete mandatory training on how to teach reading, despite pushback from some school district leaders about burdensome reporting requirements.
Most State Board of Education members on Wednesday agreed that districts should be able to handle the job by the deadline. Districts that don’t — except in rare cases where emergencies or unforeseen circumstances prevent teachers from completing the training on time — could risk losing their annual allocation of state money for teaching struggling readers.
The board did not vote on the matter, but its direction to state education leaders aligns with its stance in recent years to hold firm on efforts meant to boost the state’s dismal third-grade literacy scores. The teacher training requirement came out of a 2019 law and is seen as a key lever for changing how early reading instruction is delivered in kindergarten through third grade.
About 23,000 early elementary teachers must complete the 45-hour teacher training, either by taking a free online course or completing other state-approved options. So far, more than 20,000 teachers have enrolled in the free course, and 7,500 have completed it. Another 1,000 teachers have signed up for other approved options, and nearly 700 have completed them.
A number of Colorado superintendents, along with groups representing district leaders and school boards, recently raised concerns about the data being collected on the K-3 teacher training as well as a separate topic, graduation guidelines.