Reducing Assessments, Keeping High Standards

(March 17) – Gov. John Hickenlooper joined leadership from both chambers today in a bipartisan show of support for a newly introduced bill to reduce the amount of standardized testing of Colorado K-12 students.

SB15-215 responds to a report delivered in late January by the state Standards and Assessments Task Force. It found that under the current K-12 testing standards, students spend too much time being tested and teachers spend too much time teaching to the test, stifling learning in favor of test preparation.

The new bill reduces the testing burden, especially in high school, and places a strong emphasis on tools that are proven to be effective, like the ACT test. For younger students, it helps make it simpler to administer assessments like the READ act, while preserving the critical mission of schools to make sure every student learns to read and write.

“To get this bill ready in 45 days took a lot of hard work, “said Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder. “I applaud President Bill Cadman and the members of the education committees in both chambers who worked in bipartisan fashion to draft this bill.”

“Our objective is unchanged: to provide an excellent education for all kids in Colorado, regardless of their zip code or their economic background,” said Rep. John Buckner, D-Aurora, chairman of the House Education Committee and a House sponsor of SB15-215 with Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Salida. The Senate sponsors are Sens. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, and Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood.

“Measuring achievement helps to level the playing field for our students across the state – because a child in Cortez or Julesburg should have the same shot at success as a child in Douglas County, Cherry Creek or Boulder,” Rep. Buckner said. “At the same time, we recognize that the current level of testing should be recalibrated to the benefit of students. This bill ensures that we provide a consistent measure of performance and achievement across classrooms, schools and districts.”

“We are listening to parents, teachers and students, and we welcome continued dialogue about how we can further develop a system of education that is fair, accountable and serves the needs of every single student in the state,” said Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, vice chairwoman of the House Education Committee.

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