With all of the information that’s out there, this post will help you navigate the world of teaching and help you reach your goal of becoming a licensed Teacher in Colorado.
Initial Teaching Certificate
The first step to becoming a professionally licensed teacher in Colorado is to earn your initial teaching certificate through the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). First and foremost, you need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. If you want to see if your school is accredited, click here.
Most prospective teachers fall into one of two categories. The first category is those who completed a teacher preparation program while earning their Bachelor’s degree, we will call them “early deciders.” Prep programs are Bachelor’s Degree programs that are designed with the CDE’s standards in mind and when you graduate you are in a position to immediately apply for an initial license. Your coursework and credit hours will be geared towards the CDE standards. This is by far the easier and quicker route to becoming a licensed teacher in Colorado, but for those of us who didn’t know we wanted to become teachers until later in life, there is another route.
Alternative Licensing Program
For those of us who didn’t think about the real world until after graduation, we will call them the “late deciders,” there is another route called the Alternative Licensing Program (ALP). Prospective alternative candidates must enroll in a one or two year program that allows the prospective teachers to work full time while receiving mentoring and ongoing professional development.
Admittance to the ALP will give applicants a “Statement of Eligibility” so that they may begin teaching under the guidance of an approved alternative program. When this one or two year program is complete they may apply for their Initial License.
A recent Colorado teaching candidate told me, “the alternative certification programs work well and have a lot of opportunities if you are a math/science teacher…but if you teach another subject, you really have to have a principal or school believe in you to get into the alternative program.”
In addition to, and prior to, completing the one or two year Alternative Licensing program a prospective “late decider” teacher must also demonstrate their competency in the subject matter they wish to teach. This can be done with related undergraduate credits, and they also must take either the PLACE or PRAXIS II exam, there are some smaller exams for specialized subjects as well. These are standardized exams that are accepted by the CDE. There are some advantages and disadvantages to each exam, and depending on what content you wish to teach you may have to take one exam or the other, be sure to check in advance on the CDE’s website. Here. The PLACE exam was created and is only applicable in Colorado, the PRAXIS II is accepted in all 50 states. A recent teaching candidate remarked, “Almost everyone I know does the Praxis II because it just gives you more options.”
“Early deciders” do not need to take standardized exams as long as they are hoping to teach in a subject that they studied in their prep course.
Initial License to Professional License.
Initial Licenses last for 3 years and are renewable. Finger printing and a criminal background check are mandatory. In order to qualify for a Professional License, a teacher must complete an approved induction program. Induction includes professional development, mentoring, ethics training, and performance evaluations. Once a Professional license is earned it will last for 5 years and is renewable, there are also some mandatory continuing education requirements.
Matt is the co founder of Whipsmartt, an education technology company that focuses on mobile exam prep solutions. He graduated from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2011 and worked as a public defender in Pueblo County until 2015.