Possible Changes for Standardized Testing in Colorado

The Colorado House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to a new testing measure on Monday.

The House and Senate education committees each approved the testing measure.

These are the features of the new plan as listed on http://co.chalkbeat.org/:

  • CMAS/PARCC testing in language arts and math would continue in grades 3-9. (This would require federal sign-off because grade 9 doesn’t meet federal requirements for giving the tests once in high school.)
  • Statewide science tests would continue to be given once at each level – elementary, middle and high school.
  • The proposal includes no requirement for social studies testing.
  • A college-and-career readiness test like ACT Aspire would be given to 10th grade students. (Such exams take a lot less time than the PARCC tests.)
  • The main ACT test would continue to be given in the 11th grade.
  • Districts would be required to give the 10th and 11th grade tests but students wouldn’t have to take them. (Such tests aren’t subject to federal requirements for student participation.)
  • Parents would have to be notified about their rights to opt students out of tests, and districts would be prohibited from punishing or discriminating against students who don’t take tests.
  • Pilot programs under which districts could experiment with different kinds of tests would be created.
  • There would be limits of use of state test data for educator evaluation in 2014-15 and in future years when such data isn’t available for timely evaluations.

Reactions from students has been positive, such as the reaction from Cindy Severance, 12.

“I think the bill will help change that the students are going to have more beneficial testing and that they won’t be wasting their time taking tests that don’t affect them. It’s a bummer that we didn’t get that same opportunity, the only test that I felt was beneficial was the PSAT which wasn’t even required,” Severance said. “If I was an underclassman I would be happy if the bill changed testing.”

Reception from the administration has also been positive, including the response from Erika Reed, the assistant to the vice-principal at Mountain Vista High School.

“I think that there is an environment of over-testing students these days. It’s so good that the legislature is trying to address this,” Reed said. “Hopefully a compromise can be met that will best serve students and teachers.

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