Standardized test results yield nothing new

This letter from Eagle County Schools' Jason Glass announces the release of test results to students, teachers and parents.

More data

Results for all of Colorado’s 178 school districts and 1,836 schools can be found on the Colorado Department of Education website.

DENVER — The second round of results for the latest standardized tests were released Friday, and round 2 appears to be much more ado about nothing.

The PARCC tests – Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career – is the latest fad in testing, and it’s part of the Colorado Measures of Academic Success. District level scores for math and English were released Friday, following last month’s statewide scores.

State education officials insist they’re establishing a “new baseline for measuring student success.” If student participation data buried in Friday’s results are any indication, students and parents do not appear to share that enthusiasm. When it comes to the glut of standardized testing, parents and students, especially high school students, appear to be resisting. While participation was strong in elementary schools, some high schools saw less than half of their sophomores and juniors take the test, said the Colorado Department of Education in releasing Friday’s data.

At Battle Mountain High School, participation rates ranged from 77 percent for one of the math tests, to 19 percent for one of the English language arts tests.

Down the road at Eagle Valley, participation rates ranged from 97 percent for a ninth grade math test, down to 69 percent for an 11th grade English language arts test. Statewide, participation rates plunged to 45 percent for 11th grade math and 50 percent for 10th grade math. Third graders almost all showed up, ranging between 95 and 100 percent on all tests, both locally and statewide.

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Even state lawmakers seem to have had enough. Last spring they passed a law mandating that students in grades 10 and 11 will no longer be required to take the CMAS tests in English language arts and math.

“Low participation at some schools could have an impact on results, so parents should look carefully at both achievement and participation,” said Elliott Asp, Colorado’s interim commissioner of education.

The PARCC test results were also months late in arriving. Students were tested last spring, with delivery of results originally promised by summer, so parents and teachers could use the data to tailor teaching to individual students. Asp said it took hundreds of educators several months over the summer to set performance levels for the new standardized test and they’d do better in the future.

“Colorado made a huge shift in 2010 toward higher standards designed to ensure students are truly ready for college or the workforce when they graduate from high school,” Asp said. “As parents get their first look at how their student and school performed on last spring’s tests, they need to remember that the bar has been raised, and although scores may look different, I’m confident they will rise as teachers and students gain more experience with the standards and the new tests.”

$78 million a year

A Denver-based education research firm found that Colorado state government and school districts spend up to $78 million a year on testing. Augenblick, Palaich and Associates also found that some kind of standardized testing takes place during every week of the school year, according to a new study. Just calculating direct costs, and not counting staff time spent preparing for tests instead of teaching, Colorado spends between $70-$90 a student is spent on standardized tests.

That’s $61.1 to $78.4 million annually, the study found. In a school year that sees students in class for 175 days, students spend between 7 percent and 15 percent of their time preparing for or taking assessments, the study found. For our $78 million, PARCC and other tests has some unenlightening takeaways:

Affluent white kids still score the highest.

Kids living in poverty still don’t score as well.

Neither do kids eligible for free and reduced lunches.

Native English speakers still score well

English language learners less so, still.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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