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To test or not to test? Colorado educators and advocates divided on CMAS in a pandemic

Federal and state law require standardized tests — in Colorado, that’s CMAS for students in third through eighth grade

Reyna Najera works on a laptop in a classroom in Newlon Elementary School early Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, which is one of 55 Discovery Link sites set up by Denver Public Schools where students are participating in remote learning in this time of the new coronavirus from a school in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.

Colorado shouldn’t use standardized tests to judge the performance of schools or teachers amid a pandemic, a group of education leaders and advocacy groups agreed.

But should the tests be given at all next spring? And if so, should the data be publicly released? The same working group couldn’t agree in a debate that speaks to long-running questions about what these tests are even for.

“Our assessments are designed for an education system that doesn’t exist” this year, Peter Hilts, superintendent of District 49 in Colorado Springs, said in a recent meeting. “We’re not measuring anything remotely like a consistent system.”

“The inconsistent conditions are the reason to administer the assessment if possible,” countered Luke Ragland, head of the conservative education group Ready Colorado, in the same meeting. “The lack of consistency in educational services is why we would want to measure” where students are.

Federal and state law require standardized tests — in Colorado, that’s CMAS for students in third through eighth grade and the PSAT and SAT for high school students — and describe how they should be used for school accountability and teacher evaluations. Any changes will ultimately require federal waivers as well as legislative action or an executive order from Gov. Jared Polis.

Read more at chalkbeat.org.

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