MEEKER I While the Colorado General Assembly this year wrestled with legislation to reform K-12 testing, Meeker School District geared up for another couple of weeks of high-stakes student testing that will determine college placement, estimate military potential and assess student growth.
April 28 marked the annual ACT (American College Testing) assessment for high school juniors. Colorado is one of many states that requires all juniors to take this college entry exam whether they are college bound or not. Juniors just finished taking the Accuplacer tests only days before to determine their eligibility for basic college composition and college algebra.
Juniors, however, were not the only gladiators in the testing arena. While they were taking the ACT, freshmen and sophomores took a second round of PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career). Supposedly similar to ACT, the controversial PARCC tests were designed as a curriculum and standards-based educational and career planning tool, evaluating a student’s academic readiness for college.
Less than 36 hours after the ACT, juniors were back in the computer lab taking the language arts portion of PARCC. Just as PARCC testing finally concluded for the year, Aspire tests, developed by the same corporation which produces the ACT, were delivered to freshmen and sophomores as a way to measure student growth. The ACT scores may eventually be used as 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Aspire testing covers five subject areas: writing, reading, English, math and science.
For students in 10th, 11th or 12th grade who are interested in joining the military, the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test was given Tuesday. Next week, a Colorado ACT make-up test is scheduled.
The week of May 18, Meeker seniors will take their last high school tests: class finals. May 26-29, the week after graduation, finals for all underclassmen will be given. These normal tests actually apply to students’ coursework grades and relate to content delivered in the classroom during the school year.
Two significant student assessment “fix” bills survived this year’s legislative session. One generated by the Republican-led Senate and the other a product of the Democratic-controlled House. While both bills headed in the same general direction—reform of public school testing—there were significant differences.
As we went to press on the last day of this year’s legislative session, both chambers have agreed to one bi-partisan compromise bill, according to Todd Engdahl, capitol editor for Chalkbeat, a Colorado education website at co.chalkbeat.org.
Key features of the compromise are that PARCC testing in language arts and math will continue in grades three through nine; statewide science tests will continue to be given once at each level—elementary, middle and high school; one college-and-career readiness test like ACT Aspire will be given to 10th graders (such tests take a lot less time than the PARCC tests); the main ACT test will continue to be given to juniors; districts will be required to give 10th- and 11th-grade tests, but students will not have to take them.
Parents will have to be notified about their rights to opt students out of tests and districts are to be prohibited from punishing or discriminating against students who do opt out; and the school readiness plan and the READ (Reading to Ensure Academic Development) Act literacy assessments can be combined. Availability of paper tests will be required if requested. Also, districts will be required to provide detailed testing calendars and existing law requiring various postsecondary and workforce readiness tests will be repealed.
The governor is expected to sign the compromise bill.