This week has been a big week for reducing the number of hours of standardized testing for our students in Colorado.
First, Governor Hickenlooper signed HB 1323 which, at a high level, contains the following provisions:
- Reduces K-3rd grade reading and literacy tests
- Keeps 9th grade PARCC English and Math tests as-is
- Replaces 10th grade PARCC tests with a shorter college prep test
- Eliminates 11th & 12th grade PARCC tests entirely
- Continues the state mandated ACT test for 11th graders
- Allows for paper and pencil testing options, to be determined by each school, not by parents or districts (this is bigger than it sounds because many schools are burdened by the cost of technology to allow students to take online tests)
- Allows parents and educators to opt-out of testing; however, educators, schools, and districts will face consequences through accreditation and performance reviews if participation drops significantly (unclear how this is defined)
- Creates a pilot program for districts to develop their own tests, pending both state and federal approval
- Requires districts to disclose the amount of time dedicated to testing and to classify it as federal, state, or locally required
In all, the reduction in testing time is expected to be modest, but people on both sides of the aisle generally agree that it’s a step in the right direction.
In addition to the signing of HB 1323, the second big announcement this week came from the governing board of PARCC which stated that beginning next year, both the English and Math PARCC tests will be reduced by 30 and 60 minutes, respectfully, for each grade level in which they are given.
Taken together, these changes will make a measurable, positive impact on our students and teachers next year, giving the opportunity for more classroom time for education vs. testing while continuing to hold districts accountable for student performance improvements.