Dr. Walt Cooper
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In a few short weeks we will begin administering statewide assessment in each of our District 12 schools. The state assessment program, called the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) is designed for two main purposes: measuring school accountability and measuring individual student performance.
Many of you will recall that last year there was a significant amount of controversy and publicity surrounding Colorado’s assessment system. I, too, was highly critical of last year’s system and the time it took away from the quality teaching and learning that happens in each one of our schools every day. This year, however, I am pleased that I can write about a number of significant changes to CMAS that I believe have resulted in a much more reasonable and manageable assessment system.
The most significant changes are that the English/language arts assessment for grades 3-9 has been reduced to one administration instead of two. The math assessment for grades 3-9 has also been reduced to one administration instead of two; and, the 10th Grade PARCC exam has been eliminated and replaced with the P-SAT, a test that provides true value and benefit to high school students. An added plus is that the high school social studies exam has been eliminated for this year and will only be given every third year moving forward.
I am confident that these changes, along with the benefits of increased technology the District has been able to secure in each of our schools, will result in a much more meaningful and manageable assessment season this year that significantly reduces the impact to instructional time.
Another significant change from last year is that, once again, results from these assessments will be used by the Colorado Department of Education to identify district and school accreditation ratings. Last year, the State Board of Education gave schools a “time out” on these measures largely due to many parents refusing for their children to take these assessments. However, that has now passed and these assessments are again very important on a school and school district level.
Like last year, parents still have the right to refuse their child’s participation on state assessments, however, I am strongly encouraging parents to resist opting their children out of these tests (especially considering the positive changes that have occurred since last year) as they will again be a critical element in the state determining our accreditation status.