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Alternative Principal Preparation: Obtaining a Principal Authorization
Alternative Principal Preparation
Alternative principal preparation allows individuals from outside the educational community to develop the skills and experiences necessary to successfully lead a public school and ultimately qualify for an initial Colorado principal license.
The qualifying candidate must:
- be required to hold a principal license to fulfill the job duties;*
- hold a bachelor's degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university;
- participate one of Colorado's two alternative pathways for principal preparation; AND
- hold a valid Colorado principal authorization while serving as a principal or assistant principal in a Colorado public school
*If a license is not required for the position, the individual wishing to pursue principal preparation may do so through a traditional principal preparation program.
Colorado's two alternative pathways for principal preparation:
Individualized Alternative Plans
- School district and candidate develop an individualized plan
- Individualized plan vetted by CDE's Educator Development for satisfaction of the Principal Quality Standards
- Candidate submits application for a principal authorization; CDE submits for state board consideration at next meeting (dependent on submission deadlines)
- Upon board approval, principal authorization is issued
Note: The plan is not effective until approved by the board and candidate is issued a principal authorization.
Approved Alternative Program
- School district identifies candidate to serve as a principal or assistant principal
- Candidate enrolls in an approved alternative principal program (consult with hiring district before enrolling)
- Upon employment and enrollment, candidate submits application for a principal authorization
- Upon application approval, principal authorization is issued
Note: The individual is not licensed to serve as a principal or assistant principal until candidate is issued a principal authorization.
What It Is
A school district may employ a person who holds a principal authorization to perform the duties of a principal or assistant principal in a school only when the person who holds the authorization is under the supervision of a Colorado professional principal license-holder.
- A principal authorization shall be valid for three years and may not be renewed.
- It is valid only while the individual is completing the individualized plan or approved alternative principal program and, if applicable, accruing the requisite licensed experience required for an initial principal license should the candidate not have three years' licensed experience in an elementary or secondary school at time of issuance.
- Upon completion of the individualized plan or approved alternative principal program, the candidate must apply for a Colorado initial principal license.
- There is a demonstrated need for the principal or assistant principal position in the partnering Colorado school district or BOCES;
- An employment agreement for the position exists; and
- An individualized principal plan has been developed and vetted by CDE/Educator Development as meeting established indicators OR the candidate is enrolled in a Colorado State Board of Education-approved alternative principal program.
How to Obtain One
Questions? Send an email to CDE's Educator Preparation office.
For questions, submit a Licensing Support Request form or call 720-739-3304 (7:30 am to 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday).