House Launches New Student Testing Reduction Bill

(March 30) – A new, bipartisan effort to implement recommended changes in assessment tests in Colorado’s K-12 schools was introduced in the House today.

HB15-1323 is sponsored by Reps. John Buckner, D-Aurora, and Jim Wilson, R-Salida, the chairman and ranking minority member of the House Education Committee.

“I’m glad to partner with Rep. Wilson on this bill, and to have strong bipartisan cosponsorship,” Rep. Buckner said. “The House is taking a leadership role to implement a series of sensible reforms that will streamline our standardized testing while still providing an objective measurement of student achievement and holding schools and education professionals accountable for student success. It will also preserve $400 million in federal assistance for K-12 education in Colorado.”

The Colorado Standards and Assessments Task Force studied the statewide assessment system for school districts, public schools, charter schools, educators and students implemented in 2014. The main tenets of HB15-1323 include:

· Eliminating all state-mandated tests in 12th grade
· Eliminating state-mandated tests in 11th grade except for the ACT college entrance exam
· Making 9th grade English Language Arts and math tests a local decision
· Administering the ELA and math assessments in 10th grade
· Adjusting the schedule for kindergarten students taking READ Act assessments
· Providing a paper-and-pencil option for all tests
· Providing more information directly to parents to reduce student opt-outs
· Holding all schools and districts harmless from penalties under the school and district performance accountability standards through the 2015- 2016 school year
· Streamlining the School Readiness Assessments and reducing the number of required assessments to one per year, instead of three
· Excusing non-English-proficient students who have been in a Colorado school less than one year from the state-mandated ELA assessments. Such students would take the ELA test in their second year, but their performance would not be included in accountability measures until the third year.

Supporters of the bill are acting to revive a stalled effort to implement the task force’s recommendations. SB15-215, also sponsored by Reps. Buckner and Wilson, was introduced in the Senate three weeks ago, but has gotten bogged down in party and intraparty politics and has not had its initial Senate hearing.

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