School Views: Spring testing season is here
Spring is here and with warm weather and longer daylight hours comes an annual rite of passage: standardized testing. This is a term that conjures differing opinions. Some believe schools should focus on the development of the whole child and reject the pressures of standardized testing. Others believe that standardized tests provide a measure of accountability. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
It is Eagle County School District’s mission to grow students to have creative minds, compassion for others, and enthusiasm for learning, and the courage to act on their dreams. This requires nurturing the whole child while also delivering academic success.
In recent years, we’ve taken significant steps in promoting the emotional, social, and mental health of students. These efforts have taken an even higher priority given the added stressors accumulated over the last couple of years.
Standardized tests are not inherently bad. They are what we make of them. As we continue our journey back to normal, we must all (teachers, parents and students) accept the role standardized tests play in our education system. As we head into April, our schools are preparing to administer the annual Colorado Measures of Academic Success exams.
CMAS tests are administered each year across the state to determine if students have mastered the content they need to know according to grade-level and subject-matter standards. CMAS tests cover language arts and mathematics for grades 3-8, and science for grades 5, 8 and 11. High school students will also be testing. Ninth and 10th graders will take the PSAT, and 11th graders will take the SAT.
We’re all aware the past few years of school have been out of the ordinary and presented challenges to the learning experience for our students. However, our students and staff members have shown amazing resilience and worked hard to overcome numerous challenges.
Nevertheless, students across the country have seen a level of learning loss across grade levels associated with various COVID-19 constraints. This makes standardized testing that much more important this year. While lower scores may be expected given recent challenges, we are optimistic that our district’s ability to maintain in-person instruction will result in rebounding test scores among our students.
As a parent or guardian, encourage your student to take these exams seriously and strive to do their best. Our schools are doing great things for our students, and these standardized tests are an opportunity to showcase their hard work. Young minds are in the continuous process of learning, and the results of a single exam cannot and do not tell the complete story of their knowledge or experience. Testing windows and opt-out options are available at our website under the Student Assessment tab in the About Us section.
We prepare our students to be successful in their careers or college experiences, and to contribute to their communities in positive and effective ways. Standardized tests are a part of this process, and our students are prepared to demonstrate their knowledge. I look forward to working through this testing period with our schools, learning where our students stand in their academic mastery, and continuing the learning process with our students.
Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.