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Colorado Board of Education pushing for state tests, ratings to resume

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 22:33:57-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado students could take standardized tests for the first time since 2019.

Last Thursday, the Colorado Board of Education approved three resolutions recommending that testing resume next spring and that the accountability ratings resume for schools and districts. The resolutions also included details for creating a transitional year in which the ratings would have lower stakes for schools and districts.

"I think it would be good to have one year of normalcy for the kids without all of this craziness going on," said Daniel Luu, Academy School District 20 parent.

He opted his kids out of standardized tests last year but isn't opposed to it next year.

"My kids have done OK with the remote learning and stuff so I think they would be up to par with what standards would be," said Luu.

Luu says he understands that other parents may not feel the same. He says it is a decision that really depends on each individual kid.

"My two kids are very different, they both get As and Bs. My daughter is averaging a 3.9 or so at Pine Creek, but she's a horrible test taker then you have my son who knows how to take tests and doesn't mind taking tests and doesn't get stressed out about it," said Luu.

He says he trusts his kids' district and school to make the best decision, but some believe it just isn't the right time for testing or ratings to continue.

"We are already dealing with a lot and to think that I have to take additional time away from teaching and away from my students learning to prepare for and give a test. Just the amount of time spent on testing is excessive, it is not necessary to test third-graders for that amount of time to know whether they can read, write, or do math. Any teacher in any classroom can tell you the present levels where their children are performing," said Angela Bird, President of Widefield Education Association.

Bird is among many educators in the state who want to see less focus on high-stakes testing.

"My understanding is that the data is supposed to inform funding. They want to make sure that money is going toward students who need it the most, but I really think it is time for our state legislature and state board of education to look beyond standardized testing metrics. What other data can we look at, there are students who need help with mental health. Let's give them some extra money. There are students who need with just basics for living. Let's give them some extra money, let's not just look at test scores," said Bird.

The state's largest teacher's union, Colorado Education Association, released the following statement.

“Last week’s resolutions made by the Colorado State Board of Education recognize that we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the disruptions and pressures on students that come along with it. Last legislative session, there was a collective understanding amongst stakeholders of the limited assessment data that would be available to uphold the integrity of the process.

“Now more than ever, we must have a thoughtful transition as we move from the limited and inconsistent data of the past two years back to fully implementing the current law. Without a transition, simply resuming the accountability system in 2022 is fraught with issues that will impact the integrity of the accountability system and could cause unnecessary harm to students, schools and districts. We should also note that last year many parents recognized that their child participating in statewide standardized testing after a year of interrupted and disrupted learning was not in the best interest of their child.

“As we are experiencing yet another year of inconsistencies and impacts of COVID-19, we suspect that many parents will once again make choices regarding their child's participation in statewide testing. Teachers are constantly assessing student learning and there are local assessments in place that help drive instruction and provide parents feedback on their child's learning.”
Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association

Moving forward, educators plan to speak with legislators and parents regarding testing.

"Beyond teachers, parents are that next level of influence in what's best for kids," said Bird.

"It's a tough year, it's been a tough two years and there is no right decision," said Luu.

State lawmakers will take considerations in January.