DENVER — As the school year gets underway, school leaders now have some important data on student achievement. The Colorado Department of Education released the results of the spring 2023 CMAS (Colorado Measures of Academic Success) assessments for 3rd through 8th graders, as well as PSAT and SAT scores for 9th through 11th graders.
Participation in the tests was similar to 2022 levels, but still lower than spring 2019, before the pandemic. Parents can opt their children out of taking the tests. The results showed students in Colorado are making more gains in math than in English language arts. State education leaders said that may be because math scores dropped more at the start of the pandemic, and there was more room for improvement.
Around 36.5% of 5th grade testers met or exceeded expectations on CMAS math in 2023, compared to 35.7% in 2019. This was the only grade that improved on any CMAS test in 2023 compared to 2019. In English Language Arts (ELA), 5th and 7th grade scores were more than 2 percentage points higher than 2022, but all grades still averaged lower than 2019.
Perhaps most concerning, there are still wide gaps between students based on race and ethnicity and English language proficiency. The percentage of Black and Hispanic students meeting or exceeding standards ranged from 25-30% lower than white students on both math and ELA tests.
State leaders cautioned that CMAS tests only measure the demonstrated achievement of testers, not all students. The tests do not reflect overall ability. However, Colorado Education Commissioner Susana Cordova told Denver7’s Nicole Brady the results are an important piece of data.
“If we have schools that are still struggling on the accountability clock, making sure that resources are available for those extra supports that they need, and hopefully we’ll be able to learn from the places that are celebrating gains,” Cordova said.