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News Release - Scores, participation rates released for schools and districts

Dec. 11, 2015

Scores, participation rates released for schools and districts

Results from new tests in English language arts and math set new baseline for measuring student success

Scores from the new state tests in English language arts and math should be considered a new baseline for measuring student success, said state education officials today as results and participation rates were released for schools and districts. State-level results were released in November.
Results for all 178 school districts and 1,836 schools can be found on the CDE website. To protect the privacy of students, results are not included for tests for which a school or district has 16 or fewer students enrolled. In some cases, performance level data was also suppressed within specific levels to protect student privacy.
“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,” said Elliott Asp, interim commissioner of education. “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.”
Given to public school students in grades three through high school in spring 2015, the tests were the first statewide measure of the Colorado Academic Standards, which were finalized in 2010 and fully implemented in all schools in the 2013-14 school year.  The Colorado Academic Standards set rigorous, grade-level expectations in 10 content areas, and they include the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math. 
Asp also recommended parents consider participation rates at schools and districts when evaluating test results.  While participation was strong in the elementary school levels, some high schools had less than half of their sophomores and juniors take the test. (According to a new state law passed last spring, 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,” Asp said.
Part of the state assessment system called the Colorado Measures of Academic Success, the English language arts and math tests were developed – as required by state law – in collaboration with a consortium of states known as the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC).

Scores were delayed in this first administration of the new tests because the process of setting performance levels for a new standardized test takes several months.  That process was conducted over the summer with hundreds of educators, higher-education professionals and content specialists coming together to sort the scores into five performance levels.  With that process now complete, future results will be available sooner.

Parent Resources

CDE has created several resources to help parents understand their students' scores on the new tests. Resources include Parent's Guide to Understanding the New Score Reports for Colorado's English Language Arts and Math Tests; How to Use the Test Results to Support Your Student; and Sample Score Reports in 11 languages. Access these resources.

Impact on Accountability and Educator Evaluations

The legislature created a one-year pause in the accountability system to provide educators and students more time to gain experience with the standards and aligned assessments.

District accreditation ratings and school plan types were not assigned this fall. They resume in the 2016-17 school year. During the 2015-16 school year, districts and schools will continue to implement plan types assigned in fall 2014. The five-year accountability clock for districts and schools in Priority Improvement or Turnaround, the state’s lowest performing schools, will not include the 2015-16 school year.

The new legislation also bars districts from using results from 2015 state tests in science, social studies, English language arts and math for educators’ 2014-15 evaluation rating. The tests may be used as a baseline for measuring growth in future educator evaluations.

State tests in 2015-16

After the CMAS PARCC tests were administered last spring, changes were made to improve the feasibility of the tests while maintaining accuracy and reliability.  The following changes were made:

  • Testing time was reduced by 90 minutes overall (60 minutes for math; 30 minutes for English language arts. Some students will be required to participate in an English language arts field test session of up to 90 minutes).
  • The testing window was reduced from two windows to one three-week window. Tests will be administered from April 11-29, 2016. However, districts are allowed to begin testing one to three weeks early if they cannot complete testing within the allotted timeframe due to limitations on the number of computers or other devices needed for testing.
  • Students in grades 10 and 11 are no longer required to take the PARCC tests.  Instead:
    • 11th-graders will continue to take a national college entrance exam
    • 10th-graders will take an exam aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards and 11th-grade exam
    • Both of these assessments are currently in the procurement process.