Weekly Policy Blog: HB24-1446 Supports Professional Development for Science Teachers 

HB24-1446, a bill that supports professional development for science teachers, has passed the General Assembly and will soon be sent to Governor Polis for his signature. The bill provides funding for the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to contract with a Colorado institution of higher education to develop and offer a free, optional professional development program to improve teaching around the Colorado academic standards in science. The program creates incentives for teacher participation by offering ongoing professional development credit toward licensure renewal. Rural school districts will be prioritized if demand for the training exceeds capacity. 

The bill includes an appropriation of $3 million to the CDE to implement this bill. The Colorado institution of higher education selected for the contract by the CDE may partner with other non-profits or third-party providers that offer professional development opportunities to teachers. 

Colorado BioScience Support

Colorado BioScience Association’s Vice President & Counsel for Policy + Advocacy, Amy Goodman, testified in support of HB24-1446 in the House Committee on Education on April 18 and the Senate Committee on Education on May 1. CBSA supports a collaborative, pro-innovation environment for life sciences in Colorado to advance the state as a leading life sciences hub. CBSA founded Colorado BioScience Institute in 2015 to lead life sciences workforce development.  The Institute cultivates and diversifies the state’s life sciences workforce, from classroom, to campus, to career.  

Since one of CBSA’s top Policy Priorities is to cultivate an educated workforce, CBSA not only supports workforce development initiatives to create a talent pipeline for the growing life sciences ecosystem, but CBSA also champions efforts to enhance STEM education and encourage the development of educational pathways, internship programs, and other initiatives to grow Colorado’s life sciences workforce. The Institute offers a STEM Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program to impact more Colorado students through practical knowledge and hands-on experiences for teachers.  

Colorado’s STEM Workforce

Access to high quality science education is critical to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today’s STEM workforce “does not reflect the nation’s population with respect to gender, race, and ethnicity, which indicates decades of missed opportunities for social equity addressing the nation’s STEM challenge.” (Report, Biopharmaceutical Industry’s Sustained Commitment to Inspiring and Advancing Tomorrow’s STEM Workforce, 2020). Women make up 52% of the total workforce, but only 29% of those in STEM careers. Underrepresented populations make up 17% of the total workforce, but only 13% of those in STEM careers. Increasing access to high quality science education could help improve those numbers. 

A 2017 report revealed that 35% of Colorado high school graduates take remedial college courses, suggesting that despite completing their standard high school curricula, they have not been adequately prepared for college. (PBS, 2017). Providing teachers with more accessible opportunities for science professional development training could help them to better prepare high school students in science.  

Supporting science education is key to the life sciences ecosystem’s ability to continue innovating and bringing new treatments and cures to patients, so we are very pleased by the passage of HB24-1446. 

Categories: CBSA News