(1)Intentionally left blank —Ed.
(a)The department shall develop and the executive director shall establish by rule the quality standards that each preschool provider must meet to receive funding through the Colorado universal preschool program. The quality standards must, at a minimum, address the issues specified in this section and must reflect national and community-informed best practices with regard to school readiness, academic and cognitive development, healthy environments, social-emotional learning, and child and family outcomes. The department and the executive director shall work with families, educators, and program administrators to review and, as necessary, revise the quality standards at least every five years to ensure the standards continue to reflect national best practices and meet the other requirements specified in this section. In developing, reviewing, revising, and adopting the quality standards, the department and the executive director shall consider, at a minimum:
(I)The quality standards established for preschool providers participating in the Colorado preschool program pursuant to article 28 of title 22, as it existed prior to July 1, 2023;
(II)Nationally accepted standards for preschool programs;
(III)The child care licensing requirements established pursuant to part 3 of article 5 of this title 26.5 with which preschool providers are required to comply; and
(IV)The need to ensure the availability of preschool services for eligible children throughout the state while maintaining the quality of the preschool providers.
(b)Intentionally left blank —Ed.
(I)Except as provided in subsection (1)(b)(II) of this section, the department shall ensure that each preschool provider that participates in the preschool program meets the quality standards established by rule in accordance with this section. The department may work with a local coordinating organization to ensure that a preschool provider meets the quality standards. The department may prohibit a preschool provider that fails to meet one or more of the quality standards from participating in the preschool program.
(II)If necessary to ensure the availability of a mixed delivery system within a community, the department may allow a preschool provider that does not meet the quality standards to participate in the preschool program for a limited time while working toward compliance with the quality standards; except that each preschool provider must meet all quality standards relating to health and safety as a condition of participating in the preschool program.
(2)At a minimum, the quality standards established in rule must include:
(a)The minimum numbers of contact hours of instructional services per school year for universal preschool services for preschool services provided to children three years of age and younger, and for additional preschool services. The minimum number of contact hours of instructional services established in rule for universal preschool services must not be less than three hundred sixty hours per school year.
(b)A requirement that each preschool provider provide eligible children an equal opportunity to enroll and receive preschool services regardless of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, lack of housing, income level, or disability, as such characteristics and circumstances apply to the child or the child’s family;
(c)The maximum allowable educator-to-child ratios and group sizes, aligned with national best practices. The department, by rule, may implement a waiver process to allow a preschool provider that implements a nationally recognized preschool program model to implement the educator-to-child ratios and group sizes that support the instructional practices of the model, so long as the preschool provider meets the national standards for the model or is accredited to provide the model.
(d)Qualifications for preschool teachers. The quality standards must not require preschool teachers to be licensed pursuant to article 60.5 of title 22 and must allow a preschool provider to employ a nonlicensed preschool teacher as long as the teacher meets other qualifications established in department rule. The department shall work with the department of education to ensure that a preschool educator may meet the qualifications for preschool educators by demonstrating compliance with the qualifications for an early childhood teaching license endorsement provided by the department of education.
(e)Requirements for continuing professional development for teachers employed by a preschool provider, which must be focused on improving teacher-child interactions and quality of instruction, including improving fidelity in implementing evidence-based curricula and student outcomes, and may allow for training in developmentally appropriate early numeracy, language, and literacy development, and the science of reading that is appropriate for early childhood education and comparable to the training required for early grade teachers pursuant to the “Colorado READ Act”, part 12 of article 7 of title 22. The department shall work with the department of education to allow, to the fullest extent possible, a teacher who is licensed by the department of education to use the professional development required to renew the teaching license to also meet the professional development requirements established by the department for teachers employed by a preschool provider.
(f)Standards for preschool services that, at a minimum, are aligned with the Colorado early learning and development guidelines across all early childhood domains approved by the early childhood leadership commission and with the Colorado academic standards adopted by the state board of education pursuant to section 22-7-1005, are culturally inclusive, and are supported by the department in implementation;
(g)Standards for instructional practice that, at a minimum, must ensure that the instructional practice implemented by preschool providers:
(I)Promotes learning through developmentally appropriate practices that include a mix of structured activities and play; and
(II)Increases and supports learning using instructional practices that build on previous learning and include a focus on age-appropriate classroom environments and ongoing informal assessments of learning;
(h)Limitations on the use of, and required procedures for, out-of-school suspension and expulsion in accordance with section 22-33-106.1. In addition, to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline, the standards must reflect best practices in early childhood mental health, including promoting access to early childhood mental health consultation.
(i)Standards for family and community engagement to ensure that the preschool provider engages with parents and neighborhood leaders in a formal and meaningful way, including seeking input for policy and programming decisions;
(j)Requirements for serving children who are dual-language learners, which must, at a minimum, include:
(I)Identifying, screening, and assessing children in their home languages;
(II)Communicating with children’s parents in their home languages; and
(III)Using teaching strategies that have been shown to meet the needs of children who are dual-language learners;
(k)Requirements for offering voluntary vision, hearing, dental, and health screenings, and, upon parent request, referrals to appropriate health providers for children who are enrolled by a preschool provider; and
(l)Requirements for providing voluntary developmental screenings, which must, at a minimum, include the use of valid and reliable screening tools that are developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate.
(3)Intentionally left blank —Ed.
(a)Using the procedures specified in subsection (3)(b) of this section, the department shall create a resource bank of preschool curricula for use by preschool providers. The resource bank may include only curricula that, at a minimum:
(I)Are supported by evidence that use of the curricula improves student outcomes;
(II)Are developmentally appropriate, culturally relevant, and linguistically responsive to communities being served;
(III)Promote literacy, as developmentally appropriate, based on the science of reading by providing language development, including speech sounds, vocabulary, grammar, and use, and providing developmentally appropriate instruction to support children’s success in early elementary grades when receiving instruction pursuant to the “Colorado READ Act”, part 12 of article 7 of title 22, in the areas of phonemic awareness; phonics; vocabulary development; reading fluency, including oral skills; and reading comprehension;
(III.5)Promote developmentally appropriate early numeracy; and
(IV)Are aligned with the Colorado early learning and development guidelines approved by the early childhood leadership commission.
(b)The department shall develop and implement a procedure for identifying the curricula it includes in the resource bank of preschool curricula. At a minimum, the procedure must include:
(I)Soliciting through public notice, accepting, and promptly reviewing curricula from preschool providers and from publishers;
(II)Evaluating the curricula that the department identifies or receives, which evaluation is based on the criteria specified in subsection (3)(a) of this section and any additional criteria specified in department rule;
(III)Providing notice to preschool providers and publishers that submit curricula concerning whether the submitted curricula was included in the resource bank and, if excluded from the resource bank, the reasons for exclusion; and
(IV)Reviewing the resource bank at least every three years to update the resource bank and add curricula when appropriate. In reviewing and updating the resource bank, the department shall, at a minimum, comply with the procedures described in subsections (3)(b)(I) to (3)(b)(III) of this section.
(c)The department shall allow preschool providers and publishers to submit curricula to the department at any time to be reviewed and considered for inclusion in the resource bank, regardless of the schedule for reviewing the resource bank. The department shall review all submitted curricula in accordance with the adopted procedures described in subsection (3)(b) of this section.
(d)The department shall make the resource bank accessible to the public through the department website.
Section 26.5-4-205 — Quality standards - evaluation - support,
https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/olls/crs2023-title-26.5.pdf (accessed Oct. 20, 2023).