- On Wednesday, Colorado’s state board of education will vote on a proposal that would cut back on high school testing and lighten some of the accountability strictures in current state law.
- The proposal stems from a law passed earlier this year that strengthened protections for students who choose to opt out of tests and included provisions to cut back the number and length of tests.
- Department officials tried to craft a proposal that wouldn’t jeopardize the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver, which is up for renewal, but worries linger that cutbacks in testing won’t sit well with federal education officials.
As with many other states, cutting back on testing was a central topic of debate during the 2015 Colorado legislative session. Legislators carefully crafted a compromise that attempted to skirt most of the issues that would be nonstarters for the federal waiver process, but a few miscalculations — including suggesting that ninth grade test scores could replace testing in the rest of high school — have made state education officials' jobs tricky.
Several states have begun to try and find the wiggle room available in the Obama-era waivers. New Hampshire, for example, implemented a small pilot to test alternatives to the time- and resource-intensive Common Core-aligned state tests, a move that Colorado is trying to mimic. Washington state, however, found federal officials' limits last year after decoupling teacher evaluations from student test scores.
One interesting move on the part of Colorado: It may extend ACT testing to 10th graders in order to replace the longer state tests. That would mean that Colorado high schoolers, who currently take the college readiness exam in 11th grade, would take the test twice. More states are beginning to move to the ACT and SAT for federal accountability, thanks to their more abbreviated lengths and potential benefit to students.