'Testing madness' continues to be a significant issue for our students and teachers.
District leaders, teachers, and parents believe the standardized testing movement has gone too far. The amount of required state standardized tests our students will endure this year dominates every month of the school calendar and includes PARCC, CMAS, READ Act, ACT and more. The confluence of these tests is significantly impacting the time available for instruction and consuming resources intended for educating our students. This is happening in all of Colorado's 178 school districts.
While we in DCSD agree, there is value in testing and measuring student achievement, the long, long list of state mandated tests has reached a fever pitch in Colorado. These tests are bad for students, they reduce classroom learning time, do little to inform instruction, and they don't measure what we value most.
DCSD Embraces Accountability
We know it is important to measure what matters most in a thoughtful and organic way. Unfortunately, these tests do not assess the things we value most for our students - creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication - the skills they need to compete on the world stage for the college or career path of their choice.
These tests are designed as a one-size-fits-all approach. Take for example the READ Act. Of course, we all support reading proficiency among third graders but the READ Act penalizes those who can read with more tests. If a third grade student demonstrates proficiency and reads well above grade level on the first READ test in September, that student is required to take the test not once more but twice more to again and again prove that he/she can read.
What is DCSD doing to combat Testing Madness?
In Spring 2014, DCSD worked closely with state lawmakers and parents to introduce and support HB 1202. In its original form, the bill sought relief from state mandated testing. The bill was ultimately signed by the governor and resulted in a study committee that is evaluating the issue and making recommendations.
Learn more about House Bill 14-1202
HB 1202 Study Committee
Capitol Watch - HB 14-1202
Innovation Waiver from Colorado Department of Education
In September 2014, the DCSD Board of Education passed a resolution authorizing the District to apply for an innovation waiver from the State Board of Education.
The purpose of the waiver is to provide relief from the over-abundance of state mandated tests- specifically the READ Act. We want to give our schools the choice to forgo participation in the state mandated READ Act assessments and measure student literacy in a way that is better suited to their students. Any school participation is voluntary and must have support of its teaching staff and SAC before even proceeding with the process.
We will continue to work with our state legislators and the State Board of Education to find relief for our students and schools.
What the Waiver is NOT...
DCSD has received a number of questions about the process. Here are some quick facts:
- You only get waivers from the statutes you request. Currently, DCSD is seeking a waiver from the READ Act only on behalf of schools that choose to request it.
- Receiving a READ Act waiver does not transform neighborhood schools into charter schools. Rather, the waiver allows a school to forgo READ Act testing.
- Nothing a school would do is "irreversible." A school could merely go back to complying with all state laws if it wanted to.
- Neither the district nor any school has even discussed a waiver of SB 191 or the teacher compensation and dismissal act or licensing.
- The Board of Education is not requesting to be designated as a "district of innovation." Individual schools are considering whether to seek waivers from the requirements of the READ Act. This was the intent of the Board resolution.
- Even if DCSD was designated as a "district of innovation," it still would be required to comply with all laws and rules that have not been specifically waived.
- Any proposal to request state board waivers of laws or rules other than the READ Act will need to be discussed at a noticed and public meeting of the DCSD Board of Education.