School groups call for Colorado to cancel its standardized testing once again this year due to COVID

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Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 04, 2021

DENVER — Education groups are calling for standardized testing in Colorado to be postponed once again this year.

The Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) is the state’s assessment of student progress that happens toward the end of each school year and tests their proficiency in English, arts, math, science and social studies.

During a virtual press conference Thursday, the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado Association of School Boards and the Colorado Rural Schools Alliance said the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on students and teachers, and they would rather spend the time catching up on work rather than going through weeks of testing.

“We are united as educators, parents and administrators. We believe the wisest thing to do for our students is to focus every single second we have left this semester in giving our students the best instruction we can, so they can concentrate on learning,” said CEA President Amie Baca-Oehlert.

The groups said they recently conducted a poll of parents and found most support the idea of doing away with the standardized testing for the year in order to focus on the needs of students.

“I am deeply concerned that this testing will take away from the limited time that I have with my students, and that I could be using to meet their needs,” said Emily Bochenek, a special education teacher at Estes Park High School. “This year, we need that tracking at a classroom and district level.”

Education groups insisted during the press conference that canceling the CMAS tests is not about students or teachers avoiding accountability but worried the testing could set students back even further.

Last month, the groups launched an online petition to cancel the testing. They have already garnered more than 8,500 signatures.

Monica Johnson, the superintendent of Strasburg 31J Schools, also worried about so many families choosing to opt-out of the tests that the results will not be representative of school or student progress. She also worried about the technological challenges in trying to perform standardized testing.

Some parents agree with the idea of postponing the testing. Kristi Leech, a mother of two attending Denver Public Schools, said the pandemic has been tough on her sons.

“I feel like we’ve written off this year for any academic growth. I feel like we’re just trying to maintain and keep up,” Leech said. “I don’t know that the education quality has been quite what it’s been in the past.”

In previous years, Leech said her sons have performed well on the standardized tests, but they never really enjoyed taking them.

She’s not opposed to testing in general and thinks assessments are important. However, she would support the idea of getting rid of the standardized tests altogether.

“I just think they should cancel it forever. That’s my personal opinion. Because of the cost, because of the stress it puts on kids and teachers and I don’t know how effective the results of a test that you’re giving over two weeks are,” Leech said.

Some Democrats are planning on introducing a bill when the legislature resumes to call off the CMAS tests for the year.

It’s unclear at this point how much support the bill will garner, or whether Gov. Jared Polis will sign off on the testing delay.