(May 29) – Gov. John Hickenlooper signed three bills Tuesday that cover the spectrum of Colorado’s education system from early child care to at-risk teenagers to parent engagement.

HB13-1291, sponsored by Rep. Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), creates the Colorado Infant and Toddler Quality and Availability Grant Program. The program will award $3 million in grants each year to increase capacity for early childhood programs and provide the tools and teacher training needed to implement quality improvement plans.

“Research shows that high-quality early childhood programs make a tremendous difference in student success,” Rep. Duran said. “This new lawl will improve the quality of early childhood education for more Colorado kids.”

SB13-217, sponsored in the House by Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and receiving unanimous legislative support, allows the state Board of Education to consider unique circumstances at alternative education campuses when determining the accreditation criteria for school districts. Previously, a district’s average test scores might be low because nearly all of students served by its AECs are “high-risk,” including dropout and expelled students, students in juvenile detention, and students with a history of drug abuse, homelessness or other specific factors.

“These alternative education campuses must be looked at differently because of the kids they serve,” Rep. Pettersen said. “We aren’t exempting the schools from high standards, but we are acknowledging the unique challenges in educating these kids.”

SB13-193, sponsored in the House by Rep. Tracy-Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada), expands the duties of school and district accountability committees to encourage more parent involvement. Accountability committees – comprised of parents, teachers, school administrators, and community members – review the practices of schools and districts and make recommendations on budgets, plans for improving student performance, assessment tools and more.

The new law provides additional state support for accountability committees and requires them to actively seek more parent involvement and work with the districts in developing parent engagement policies. The bill also elevates the role of school accountability committees in developing improvement, turnaround, or priority improvement plans when schools are struggling.

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