TOP-LINE POINTS:

  • Colorado’s students are being measured against higher standards, and that’s reflected in the new test results.
  • The new tests are different, so previous years’ scores can’t be compared to this year’s results.
  • The results show there are still large gaps in achievement based on race and income.
  • These tests are critically important to ensuring equity in schools as well as providing the most reliable information for all parents about their school’s performance.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Watch a 50-second video on why these are good tests (left).
  • Click below to show your support for the new tests by signing this letter from the business community.
Stay the Course

MORE ON WHY THIS MATTERS:

1) Colorado’s students are being measured against better, higher standards

This week, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) released statewide scores from the new tests in English and math. The results look different than previous years – but it isn’t because students aren’t progressing; they are being measured against higher standards.

“The best thing we can do for our kids is to ask more of them,” said Scott Laband, President of Colorado Succeeds. “We owe that to Colorado’s kids. These tests are more challenging, but they are also based on what students need to know to be ready for life. It’s the least we can do as a community to be sure that schools use a relevant and rigorous measurement for learning in the classroom.”

The spring of 2015 was the first time Colorado students took the PARCC exam, which is part of the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS). These new tests are aligned to the new, higher Colorado Academic Standards, which include the Common Core in English and math. They describe what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade, and they were put in place to help ensure that students graduate from high school ready for college and the workforce. (Read FAQ’s about the standards here.)


2) The new tests are different, so previous scores can’t be compared to this year’s results

The new CMAS tests are an improvement from the old ones because they ask students to think critically and apply knowledge they learn throughout their classes – rather than fill in a bubble on a multiple choice test.

Since the new tests are different, previous years’ scores can’t be compared to this year’s results; that would be like comparing apples and oranges. This year’s results set a new baseline for students to grow from. Colorado’s kids can reach these higher standards if they’re challenged to do so.


3) The results show there are still large gaps in achievement based on race and income

Also newly released, student participation rates show why it’s so important for parents to opt in to these tests.

“The results show large gaps in achievement based on not just race but also income levels, and these gaps desperately need narrowing,” said Laband. “This unacceptable trend is only illuminated because we have fair and accurate testing statewide. We need these high quality, consistent tests to ensure equity from school to school and classroom to classroom as well as growth among all student groups from year to year.”

Opt in is also critically important for parents who want to choose a school. Parents want clear, accurate information about how their schools are performing so they can compare schools and decide which classroom is the best fit for their child. Those kinds of school ratings are based on the annual state tests, and when parents opt out, that comparability is lost. This is another reason why Colorado needs to “stay the course” with these tests.


4) These tests are critically important to ensuring equity in schools as well as providing the most reliable information for all parents about their school’s performance

Colorado is in the midst of implementing many changes to its testing system, including reducing time on testing in high school. Though the remaining tests are hard, they are a critical step towards ensuring that all Colorado students graduate from high school ready for college and career. The business community invites you to join our call to stay strong with these tests by adding your name to this letter of Colorado leaders.

Coverage on the score release:

See the results for yourself here at the Colorado Department of Education’s website.

Check out the coverage on 9News.

Read about the score release on Chalkbeat Colorado.

Additional Resources:

Colorado Department of Education’s 2015-16 Testing at Glance

PARCC’s “Understand the Score” for Colorado

Be a Learning Hero

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