DENVER (AP) — Students in Colorado will only take one state standardized test this year in either math or English following a year of challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal government has approved a request from Colorado that allows students in fourth, sixth or eighth grades to take the math assessment and students in grades third, fifth and seventh to take the English or language arts assessment, Colorado Public Radio reported Friday.
Parents can choose to have their child take both tests, which are intended to measure students’ academic progress at the end of each year in multiple subjects.
Federal officials have rejected a similar request stating eighth graders must take science tests, but they will not be given to students in grades five and 11. Social studies test will not be given this year.
“This is the answer we’ve been waiting for,” said Democratic state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, who sponsored the waiver bill. “I appreciate the quick response from the federal government that will allow our schools to plan and prepare.”
State officials made the request to give students, parents and educators some relief after a year both in and out of the classroom during the pandemic. The tests this year won’t be used to evaluate teacher performance or rate schools, but officials hope the results will help evaluate the effects of the pandemic.
“In the spirit of collaboration, Colorado educators, school districts, advocacy organizations, legislators, and the department of education came together to create a solution that serves students, and provides some relief after a challenging academic year,” Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.
Parents and teachers have argued that students’ learning and mental health must take priority over standardized tests during the pandemic. They also argued the reliability and value of the test data used to compare students, schools and districts if high numbers of students opt out of taking the tests.
Colorado Commissioner of Education Katy Anthes has encouraged students to take the tests in order to “understand how much the pandemic has impacted learning across our state.”
She said the tests can help the state “target our federal and state resources toward students who need the most support.”