DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis signed legislation into law today that will create a new method for identifying and serving at-risk students. HB22-1202, sponsored by Representatives Leslie Herod and Julie McCluskie and Senators Rachel Zenzinger and James Coleman, will more accurately count at-risk students and direct additional resources to school districts that serve at-risk students.
“Modernizing the way we identify at-risk students will direct proper funding toward schools and prepare all Colorado students for success,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. “Under this law, the state will create a new well-rounded method for pinpointing at-risk students that goes beyond those eligible for free and reduced-price lunches to include data from Medicaid and the Child Health Plan Plus program. But every child lives a different home life, so the data collection will also consider important socioeconomic factors that can affect academic success such as parent incarceration, unhoused status and English as a Second Language. This law will get school districts the funding they need to meet the needs of their at-risk students so their students can grow, thrive and achieve.”
“As we introduce more precise factors into the school funding formula, we can increase the likelihood that our resources will be used in the most equitable manner, to the greatest degree of success,” said Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada. “The at-risk measure is one of those factors in need of greater precision and definition; and thanks to HB22-1202, we will eventually be able to support the children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in a true at-risk condition.”
“I am proud Colorado is taking steps to identify, serve and support each and every student,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie D-Dillion “Research has shown to better serve at-risk students, we need to look at the bigger picture and consider more than just a couple of socioeconomic factors that might hinder academic success–and this law does just that. This law creates a new definition in the formula so Colorado can more accurately identify at-risk students and provide their school districts with more funding to meet their needs.”
“We know that, right now, we don’t do enough to support our at-risk students, and that needs to change,” said Sen. James Coleman, D-Denver. “More accurately identifying our at-risk students will allow us to do a better job allocating the critical resources school districts need to serve them. This bill will help us better prepare all of Colorado’s students for success.”
HB22-1202 will create a new method in the school finance formula to identify students who are at risk of below-average academic outcomes due to socio-economic disadvantages or poverty. The new formula aims to better pinpoint at-risk students by considering multiple socio-economic factors that affect them.
Based on the new formula, school districts would be eligible for more state funding beginning in the 2023-24 school year to better prepare their at-risk students. A recent statewide poll revealed that 83% of respondents consider it important to provide resources and support to students who are falling behind so teachers can make sure every student has an opportunity to get back on track.