State board might consider new school test

Five of seven members willing to discuss replacing assessment

Colorado Board of Education members on Wednesday opened the door to replacing the state’s standardized academic test, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which could mean another upheaval after two years of statewide contention over the assessment.

The seven elected board members took an informal straw poll Wednesday to gauge interest in exploring other testing options, and five board members said they want to discuss the issue, according to Chalkbeat Colorado.

Joyce Rankin, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, was one of the five who showed interest in discussing a change.

Colorado’s academic standards for kindergarten through 12th grade are up for revision in 2018, and the state’s contract with Pearson, which administers the PARCC test, expires in June.

“You don’t want to (change) your tests before you do your standards, and that’s where the conversation began,” Rankin said. “There’s absolutely no conclusion, nothing was finalized, but we do intend to have further conversations about that.”

Rankin said she will get feedback from local educators at the upcoming Colorado Association of School Executives’ superintendents conference.

School District 51 is in many ways still reeling from the initial switch to the PARCC test two years ago.

The opt-out movement, a widespread student and parent push-back against excessive testing, still has significant strength on the West Slope.

District officials have said it’s difficult to get meaningful data from the tests, because the format is new and average local participation is just 70 percent, or 20 percent lower than the state average.

Tony Giurado, chief academic officer at District 51, said more changes will make it more difficult to gather long-term data on student, teacher and program performance.

“I think the challenge for us is, we want to have good, reliable accountability measures as well as data sets that will help us to evaluate programs and let us know how students and teachers are doing,” he said. “At the same time if a change will give us a system that’s more timely that will help us make more informed decisions, that would be a welcome change.”

A different test would need to be in place by spring 2017 in order to be ready for the 2017-18 school year, according to a statement from the Colorado Department of Education.


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