COLORADO SPRINGS — Teachers, parents, and students across Colorado are continuing to push for the cancellation of standardized tests.
The Colorado Education Association, Colorado PTA, and Colorado AFT have launched an online petition to urge state lawmakers to direct the Colorado Department of Education to submit a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to cancel CMAS (Colorado Measures of Academic Success). The organizations argue standardized testing already has a problematic history, but the ongoing pandemic has made it clear CMAS testing shouldn't be pursued.
For most parents, it hasn't been the ideal school year. The pandemic has caused unexpected closures, quarantines, and remote learning.
"With the way our kids are learning right now, they shouldn't be held to this standard that's been going on for years when they aren't learning the same things," said Trisha Gorman, Widefield School District 3 parent. "My middle schooler was a straight-A student when he was in school. With the back and forth and cohorting thing, he's barely scraping by with C's and he's getting physically frustrated because he's like mom I just don't get it."
She has two sons in Widefield School District 3 and signed the petition to cancel CMAS testing. With how the school year has gone, she doesn't see the point of testing when there is obvious lapse in her kids' education.
"We're both getting frustrated, we're both trying to get through the work. In the end, I'm looking at my kid like did you understand and he's like I have no clue how we got to this answer," said Gorman.
She says the stress of taking the test isn't worth it, and if given the option to opt her kids out, she will take it.
"I know when my kids get their scores they really judge themselves. They look at where it says average, below average, and needs help. They really judge themselves against that and for me, I'm not going to watch my kid go through that because for this past year, I can't judge him on how he's reacted to this stuff," said Gorman.
As of Thursday night, the "Tell the Colorado General Assembly: Cancel 2021 CMAS Testing" petition has over 12,000 signatures, including educators from Widefield School District 3.
"We really need time to actually teach kids. We know as a society that kids aren't where they ought to be if we weren't in this hybrid, online, pandemic chaos. We know that kids aren't going to meet those benchmarks, we know that the test is going to show that they're not going to meet those benchmarks. So instead of spending this massive amount of time making kids go through this rigorous testing process, we want to educate them, we want to spend that time teaching kids skills, working with them on catching up on things that they missed out on last spring or didn't get enough of in the fall," said Angela Bird, President of the Widefield Education Association.
While state leaders say testing is necessary to gauge the amount of learning loss from the pandemic, Bird says results aren't available in real-time and won't change how they're educating students this school year.
"It might impact how we're teaching kids next fall, but the reality is unless the funding is there to have much smaller classes, to have tutors, to really have all of these pieces in place to have kids catch up. The test isn't going to tell us anything actionable," said Bird.
She says testing won't be a good snapshot of where kids are academically.
"We're going to get results from the kids whose parents who don't know they can opt them out or the parents that don't know what the test actually does and so the results are going to show those kids. Maybe parents who want their kids to take the test because they're doing amazing," said Bird.
Gorman says with kids learning so many different ways, the results won't be accurate or fair to the kids learning remotely.
"Until they can find that balance where everyone is learning at the same rate. They shouldn't be measured by a standardized test," said Gorman.
CMAS testing is set to start in April, and the only it can be canceled is through that waiver from the U.S Department of Education.