Bill to Reduce CMAS Testing Load Passes Education Committee

Legislation would propose to administer one test per student in grades 3-8 this year, with the goal of complying with federal requirements for statewide measures of learning

DENVER, CO — The House Education Committee today passed HB21-1161, sponsored by Representative Emily Sirota and House Education Chair Barbara McLachlan, to significantly reduce the standardized testing load for students, parents and teachers this year. The bill passed on a bipartisan vote of 8-1.

HB21-1161 requires the Colorado Department of Education to seek a federal waiver to more than halve the amount of time students will be expected to spend in testing while still seeking to comply with federal guidelines that require the compilation of statewide education data and ensuring parents have access to information on their children’s learning. The data received will also ensure that policymakers have valuable information to support students and schools moving forward. 

“This year has been extremely challenging for our students and educators, and with this bill, we will make a meaningful difference by easing the testing burden while still complying with federal guidance,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. “Today, we heard from the education community about why it’s so important to get this right, and with this bill, I believe we have found a solution that works for Colorado.”

“This is a solution that will allow teachers and school districts to focus their time on helping students overcome the difficulties of the last year and also provide the data the federal government is asking for,” said House Education Chair Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “I am proud and grateful to all the stakeholders who came together to find a balanced way to help students, parents, teachers and districts during these challenging times.”

HB21-1161 requires the administration of the English Language Arts exam in grades three, five, and seven, while students in grades four, six, and eight will take the Math exam. Parents will also have the option to opt their child in to taking whichever exam they did not automatically receive. The legislation also requires the Colorado Department of Education to request a waiver to suspend science exams normally administered in grades 5, 8, and 11, and social studies exams administered in grades 4 and 7. The bill also implements consensus recommendations from a departmental task force last year, including suspending the link between tests, accountability, and educator evaluation. 

The bill would direct the Colorado Department of Education to seek a waiver from the federal Department of Education to implement these policies as soon as practicable.