Scott bill explores waivers for schools on state tests
Grand Junction Republican state Rep. Ray Scott hopes to grant school districts permission to pick their own standardized tests with help from a new bill.
Scott will present the bill, House Bill 1202, to the House Education Committee on Monday. The bill suggests the state board of education study the possibility of granting waivers to school districts that would prefer to create or buy a new testing system rather than use Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests. All Colorado school districts are expected to switch from the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, or TCAP, testing system to PARCC in spring 2015.
The bill would still require PARCC testing in all districts for English language arts in third, eighth and 10th grades, and in math for third- and eighth-grade students, but different tests could be offered in other grades and subjects as long as they align with district content standards. A district that underperforms on its own tests for three straight years would have to return to PARCC testing for the subjects in which their students are not keeping up. Failure, in that case, would be determined “by the school district’s level of achievement of the state and local targets for performance on the assessments,” according to the bill.
The bill would also allow parents in a school district that receives a waiver to excuse their students from taking the alternative tests.
Scott said he agreed to sponsor the bill after the concept was proposed by people connected to Douglas County Schools. Scott said he has heard concerns from educators about PARCC tests being offered online on standard computers when children are more used to touchscreen tablets and that PARCC tests consume too much classroom time.
“The whole concept is, we don’t want to do away with accountability, but are we testing too much?” Scott said. “Districts can craft testing that makes sense.”
A fiscal note for the bill anticipates the state would have to pay $59,637 next school year and $57,690 in the following school year to review and process district waiver requests, assuming between one and three districts decide to apply for a waiver. The fiscal note says the state pays for PARCC assessments but school districts who choose to get a waiver will have to absorb the costs and manpower needed to create and administer alternative tests.