Reyna Najera works on a laptop in a classroom in Newlon Elementary School on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. The school was one of 55 Discovery Link sites set up by Denver Public Schools where students could participate in remote learning from a school in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, Special to The Colorado Sun)

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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.