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Colorado Has Blizzard of State Tests

The Denver Post claims the small number of "parent refusals" (parents who refused to allow their student to take the state test) was a vote of confidence in Colorado's battery of assessments. We believe The Post got it wrong.

Having a student take the test is not the logical equivalent of supporting testing policy. Many parents tolerate tests to protect their schools and teachers. In each of our districts, parents are becoming more and more vocal about the issue.

There is value in high standards and measures of learning; but the blizzard of underwhelming state tests has reached a fever pitch in Colorado. This testing over-abundance reduces learning time and doesn't measure what we value most: things like collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.

Like many well-intentioned reforms, the testing movement has gone too far. The amount of required state tests our students will endure this year dominates every month of the calendar and includes PARCC, CMAS, READ Act assessments, ACT and more.

No country in the world tests as frequently as we do in the United States. In fact, the world's best performing education systems test only at key transition grades, only a few times in a student's academic career. In the United States, students in Colorado are among the most tested. Other nations have found ways to hold schools accountable and test far less. We must find a more balanced approach.

All of our districts embrace accountability. But we seriously question if the heaping on of more tests and punishments is actually improving outcomes for our students.

The most important function of any assessment is guiding instruction, allowing educators to tailor teaching to each student. But our teachers tell us state-mandated tests are not useful for that purpose. Assessments that inform instruction provide almost immediate feedback and are designed by and for classroom practitioners.

This year, along with colleagues, parents, and teachers from across the state, we will once again push for relief from the long list of state mandates and testing.

Our students and schools simply should not suffer another deluge of mandated tests.

Elizabeth Fagen is superintendent of the Douglas County School District. Dan McMinimee is superintendent of the Jefferson County School District. Jason Glass is superintendent of Eagle County Schools.

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