Colorado has a series of educational standards known as the Colorado Academic Standards that outline academic objectives for students in every grade across 10 content areas. Fully implemented in the 2013-14 school year, the standards are designed to ensure students are prepared to succeed in their path of choice upon high school graduation. Colorado has implemented a set of common assessments known as the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) and PSAT/SAT. Academy District 20 publishes the assessment calendar each fall based on the CDE guidelines.
Purpose and Value of State Assessments
CMAS and PSAT/SAT are the only common measuring tools for Colorado students. Measuring real-world skills like problem-solving and critical thinking, the tests are aligned to classroom work so teachers do not have to "teach to the test." Instruction based on the standards is the best preparation.
While state assessments are only one measure of student learning, having all Colorado students take this set of assessments provides parents with answers to these important questions:
- Did my child meet the state standards on CMAS?
- How well is my child doing compared to other students?
- Which schools and districts perform best in preparing students for academic success?
Additionally, state assessment results provide:
- Data and information districts can use, in combination with other district information, to evaluate programs.
- Data and information educators need to help improve instruction.
- Data and information regarding districts and schools that have struggling students, so help can be provided.
- Recognition from the state regarding high performing systems so others may learn from them.
Fewer Tests, Faster Results
Since CMAS exams were first administered in the 2014-15 school year, we applaud the legislature and the State Board of Education as they have made several changes to decrease the number of tests student take and to shorten the tests.
- High school students no longer take CMAS ELA and math, and instead take the PSAT and SAT college entrance assessments, which are also aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards.
- CMAS social studies tests are given to only a third of students in fourth and seventh grades.
- The State Board of Education and CDE are committed to continuing to look for ways to provide test results to districts faster.
State law allows parents to excuse their child from taking state assessments. Parents should know, however, that non-participation in state assessments means they will not have information on their child's attainment and growth on the state standards compared to other children.