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Colorado Gives Grants to AACTE Member Institutions to Combat Teacher Shortage

The Colorado Department of Higher Education announced this month that it has awarded nearly $2 million to 17 collaborative projects designed to recruit and retain more educators as part of the Plan Into Action grant established in partnership with the Colorado Center for Rural Education. Of the recipients, nine are AACTE member institutions, which have developed initiatives to combat teacher shortages. The other grantees include school districts, boards of cooperative educational services, and traditional and alternative educator training programs from across the state. The projects will establish teacher residency programs, leverage technology for improved professional support, and encourage more teacher candidates to specialize in high-need content areas.

“Teachers are the backbone of our education system and critical to our state’s long-term success,” CDHE executive director Dan Baer said. “These funds will strengthen the relationships among our institutions, alternative programs and the schools in their backyard, helping communities cultivate their own teacher corps and better support those already in the classroom.”

Plan Into Action grants will be used to focus on one of the following strategies:

  • Increase the number of teachers trained through traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs to include teacher residencies and Grow Your Own programs
  • Increase the number of dual licensure program offerings in teacher shortage areas
  • Increase the use of technology to support long-distance supervision and support for educator candidates and newly licensed educators
  • Align teacher preparation program content and endorsements with the needs and expectations of local education providers
  • Align teacher preparation programs with specific needs of local education providers and collaboratively implement innovations

The following awardees are AACTE member institutions that will implement one-year projects with the given funds, track project outcomes, and identify best practices to share and scale statewide.

  • Fort Lewis College School of Education – The partnership between Fort Lewis College School of Education, San Juan Board of Cooperative Services, member school districts1, Southwest Boettcher Teacher Residency, and Durango School District 9R propose several targeted recruitment efforts to increase the number and diversity of educators, particularly Native American and Hispanic educators, in high need endorsement areas in the Southwest portion of Colorado.
  • University of Colorado Denver School of Education and Human Development – This grant will address the need to prepare highly qualified teachers who will stay to teach and lead in rural communities by building on the success of an inaugural grow your own elementary BA/licensure programs at Otero Junior College in La Junta and Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad.
  • Center for Rural School Health and Education at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education – The goal of this proposal is to create a robust rural school mental health workforce in order to increase classroom teacher retention rates and meet the mental health needs of students.
  • University of Colorado Boulder School of Education – The current proposal elaborates four strategies to address teacher retention and recruitment for this region: A Teacher Leadership master’s degree, with an initial focus on Social Emotional Learning, an on-line dual endorsement in Special Education and Teaching Culturally Diverse Students, a summer institute for new and veteran teachers, and an immersion program for prospective student teachers and field placement coordinators.
  • University of Northern Colorado School of Teacher Education – The overarching goal of the Aspiring Teachers Program @ UNC is to “grow our own” group of future teachers who more closely reflect and understand the population of the rural community in which they live. UNC aspires for this program to make a career in teaching more accessible to rural high school students through concurrent enrollment. Students will take two foundational teacher preparation hybrid courses and earn up to six credit hours.
  • Colorado College – This project addresses the shortage through the development of a structured immersion activity for college students from both Colorado College and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in a collaborative partnership with Southeastern Board of Cooperative Education Services in southeastern Colorado. The goal of the collaborative partnership is to develop a strategic community education plan for each respective community.
  • Colorado State University Center for Educator Preparation – This project proposes the following collaborative project: 1) recruit teacher candidates from Colorado State University to complete their student teaching experience at RE- I Valley School District, 2) support district mentors in targeted training to enhance their support of teachers new to the field and/or district, and 3) develop a self-care curriculum designed to support all teachers to create sustainability within the field using community support.
  • Colorado Mountain College – This project proposes to strengthen and expand the impact and effectiveness of its developing rural educator pipelines in the Western Rockies region of Colorado. In partnership with 12 local school districts, CMC intends to expand the support for its local year-long teacher residency program and develop a “Grow Your Own” pipeline for educational paraprofessionals.
  • University of Northern Colorado Center for Urban Education – This proposal is a collaborative, innovative staffing solution for school districts that includes a grow-our-own focus and teacher residencies for paraprofessionals. It aligns teacher preparation efforts with specific needs of local education providers.

To learn more about these initiatives, visit the Colorado Plan Into Action webpage.

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Jerrica Thurman

Director of Marketing & Communications, AACTE