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Colorado Department of Education Pauses End of Year Testing

School districts should focus on community health and learning continuity rather than testing, officials say.

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) announced March 17 that the end-of-year assessment Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) will be cancelled in light of school closures throughout Colorado to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each year, the assessment tests students in third through eighth grade in core subjects. Results factor into yearly accreditation ratings, performance frameworks for each year, teacher evaluations, and conversations with students about their learning goals and growth.

CDE director of communications Jeremy Meyer says this measure was taken in order to take testing requirements off the plates of school districts so they can focus on the health and continued education of their students.

The goal of the CMAS is to keep school districts accountable to the $350 million in federal funds Colorado receives to support the education of children with developmental, economic, and language barriers to learning. This year, the CDE “intends to engage with the U.S. Department of Education to address implications,” says Colorado education commissioner Katy Anthes in the news release.

Ensuring students are not negatively impacted by this year’s lack of collective data is important to the Colorado Education Association (CEA), says president Amie Baca-Oehlert. The hiatus is a good decision, she says, because if students were to come back to school and undergo state assessments, the results would be skewed by increased anxiety over their time at home.

“There’s many other ways we know kids are learning and achieving, plenty of data,” says Baca-Oehlert, who encourages parents to continue reaching out to educators for knowledge of how their children are faring academically.

A pause on accountability like this has happened before. In 2015, the state testing system shifted from the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) to CMAS and school accreditation ratings and plan types were not assigned, but carried over from the previous year. School testing resumed with the CMAS the following year.

Upper-level high school students planning for higher education enrollment and scholarships may still be able to take the PSAT and SAT tests, as they are not yet cancelled. The CDE is working with The College Board on administration solutions.

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