New laws boost higher education attainment, improve school safety and support Colorado teachers and students

Arvada, CO– Today at Red Rocks Community College in Arvada, Governor Jared Polis signed seven bills into law to boost higher education attainment, improve school safety and increase access to behavioral health services for students.

“The new laws signed today are about making it easier for Coloradans to start and complete a higher education degree,” said Rep. McLachlan, D-Durango. “We’re giving non-traditional students a leg up and are expanding adult education grants to help Coloradans learn the skills they need to provide academic support to those they care for. We’re also doing away with the unnecessary and often harmful requirement that high schools list standardized test scores on students’ transcripts.”

HB20-1002, sponsored by Reps. Barbara McLachlan and Mark Baisley, requires a plan to award academic credit for work-related experiences that will be transferable and accepted at all state institutions by 2022, improving affordability for non-traditional students. 

SB20-009, sponsored by Reps. McLachlan and Marc Catlin, increases the number of eligible adult education providers as well as expands the goals of the state’s adult education program to create a two-generation approach to adult and childhood literacy, ultimately increasing educational and employment opportunities for both the adults in the program and their children. 

SB20-175, sponsored by Reps. Brianna Titone and McLachlan, prohibits students’ national standardized test score from being included on high school transcripts, which has been required in Colorado. Standardized tests have proven to be a poor measure of a student’s success, and requiring their inclusion on transcripts disadvantages lower-income students who may not have access to expensive test preparation materials and services. 

HB20-1113, sponsored by Reps. Titone and Kevin Van Winkle, improves the state’s Safe2Tell program. The new changes align the Safe2Tell program and the crisis hotline more closely to help individuals in crisis rapidly access crisis counseling. It adjusts the annual advertising campaign to improve awareness about the program and reduce its misuse, and it enhances Safe2Tell’s ability to prevent imminent physical harm. 

“I’m proud of the way we were able to come together in a bipartisan way and put Colorado students first,” said Rep. Titone, D-Arvada. “By getting rid of the unproven, stressful and discriminatory requirement to include standardized test scores on high school transcripts, an idea brought to me by a constituent, more students will have a fair opportunity to succeed after they graduate. These laws will provide educators the tools they need to help our students and will improve the Safe2Tell program so that it better serves our youth, keeps them safe and saves lives.”

“The pandemic has changed students’ lives in so many ways; it’s clear we need to keep mental health at the forefront of our response to this public health crisis,” said School Safety Committee Chair Rep. Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “We made important progress this year, improving the Safe2Tell program, expanding behavioral health training for educators, and allocating significant federal resources for behavioral health services in schools.” 

HB20-1312, sponsored by Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Titone, includes behavioral health training and awareness of laws and practices relating to educating students with disabilities in the professional development requirements to obtain a teacher’s license. 

HB20-1407, sponsored by Reps. Cathy Kipp and Baisley, allows publicly funded colleges and universities the option to waive standardized testing as a requirement for admission for high school students graduating in 2021 in response to the pandemic.

The governor also signed SB20-183, sponsored by Reps. Baisley and Titone, which allows the statewide internet portal authority (SIPA) to serve institutions of higher education, the state department of education, and other state agencies. SIPA provides technology services and products. 

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