NEW CMAS Bill Will Reduce Testing Load for Students, Ensure Access to Measures of Learning This Year

Legislation introduced today 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 — Representative Emily Sirota and House Education Chair Barbara McLachlan today introduced legislation to significantly reduce the standardized testing load for students, parents and teachers this year. 

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. 

“From cancelled school days to switching between in-person and virtual learning, students have faced some of the greatest challenges of their lives this past year,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. “This approach would make a substantial and meaningful difference for kids, parents and teachers by easing the testing burden while still complying with federal guidance to have statewide data. I’m grateful for everyone in the education community who came together to ensure that we can focus on the educational, social and emotional needs of our students.” 

“Parents and educators from across Colorado have raised concerns to us that going forward with our testing system without changes would stress our students,” said House Education Chair Rep. McLachlan, D-Durango. “With the bill we introduced today, Colorado students, parents and teachers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that we’ll still have the data we need while allowing teachers and school districts to reinvest time that would have been spent testing this year into helping students catch up on learning loss from this turbulent past year of the pandemic.”

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. 

The bill, which will replace HB21-1125, will be heard in the House Education Committee on Friday.

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