Thursday, January 15, 2015

Catching up on the 1202 Task Force and the 2015 Legislative Session

The Task Force created by House Bill 1202 has recommended reductions in standardized testing, particularly for high school students. According to the Denver Post:

Although it still must finalize a report to present to the legislature before month's end, the task force agreed to urge elimination of all testing for high school seniors and a reduction for juniors.

As high school seniors, we applaud this decision. We believe that the science and social studies testing that students face in eleventh in twelfth grade causes excessive stress for students, is expensive, and does not provide the state with valuable feedback.

Of course, the recommendations of the Task Force mean nothing if the Colorado legislature chooses not to act. That's why we were encouraged to see that standardized testing appears to be a core issue as the 2015 Colorado legislature session opens. Per Chalkbeat Colorado:

Senate Bill 15-073, sponsored by Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, would require the state to cut testing to the so-called federal minimums and to ask federal authorities for a waiver that would allow use of the ACT test as the only assessment in high school. While such a request was pending, the ACT test would temporarily be eliminated.
Senate Bill 15-056 is a repeat of Sen. Andy Kerr’s unsuccessful attempt to trim social studies from the closing days of the 2014 session.

Both these pieces of legislation are a step in the right direction. While the details still need to be ironed out, we are grateful that the Colorado legislature has recognized the need for reductions in standardized testing. Measures such as using exclusively the ACT would substantially reduce testing burden on high school students, while also aiding the college admissions process.

That said, legislation thus far only targets high school students, and we believe over-testing is a problem for all grades in Colorado. However, we also recognize that the Colorado legislature is somewhat hamstrung by federal requirements. Once again, per the Denver Post,
Beyond that, Colorado has little choice but to follow federal law mandating third- through eighth-grade math and reading tests, and that high schoolers be tested at least once. Students also must be tested in science once each in elementary, middle and high school.
Regardless, we hope that logic can prevail over partisan politics and the Colorado legislature can reduce standardized testing wherever possible.

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