Generally speaking, K-12 public school teachers in Colorado are required to be licensed by the state. In order to meet demands for highly qualified teachers in the classroom — especially in high-needs areas like math, science and special education, or in challenging school environments — certain alternative certification programs have been recognized.

Typically, alternative certification programs enable competent professionals without formal education degrees to pursue a streamlined path into classroom teaching. Depending on the requirements of the program, they may take relevant pedagogy courses before and/or during their time on the job.

In at least one case, a local education agency has received waivers from the state to train and license certain members of its own teaching staff. Opening in 2007, Douglas County’s Learning Center has helped to fill shortages in high-demand areas and at least holds out the promise of bringing in unlicensed real world professionals to teach specialized courses.

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