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Bill To Reduce Standardized Testing Load For Colorado Students Passes Out Of Committee

DENVER (CBS4) - A bill aimed at reducing the standardizing testing load in Colorado schools passed out of the House Education Committee on Friday. House Bill 21-1161 would require the Colorado Department of Education to seek a federal waiver to cut testing time by more than half for Colorado students.

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The Colorado Measures of Academic Success tests are how the state assesses development in students. Some parents say they don't want their children going into the classroom to take the CMAS test.

Sponsors of the bill say they want to comply with federal guidelines to compile statewide education data while also ensuring parents have access to information on their children's learning.

"This year has been extremely challenging for our students and educators, and with this bill, we will make a meaningful difference by easing the testing burden while still complying with federal guidance," said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver.

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"This is a solution that will allow teachers and school districts to focus their time on helping students overcome the difficulties of the last year and also provide the data the federal government is asking for," said House Education Chair Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango.

The Colorado Education Association applauded the committee vote, calling the bill "necessary relief for students and educators from standardized testing this spring."

If the bill passes, the state will request a waiver to suspend science exams normally administered in grades 5, 8 and 11 and social studies exams in grades 4 and 7. Parents would have the option to opt their child in to taking the exams.

Students in grades 3, 5 and 7 will still take the English Language Arts exam and students in grades 4, 6 and 8 will take the Math exam.

The Superintendent of Westminster Public Schools testified in favor of the bill on Friday. The district issued the following statement to CBS4:

"While we lobbied for a suspension of all standardized testing this spring to allow us to focus on teaching and learning, WPS supports this compromise bill. It's important that we use our time and resources in the best way possible and this is an important step in helping our students recover from the pandemic."

Denver Public Schools Statement on HB21-116:

"While DPS values standardized testing data for the purposes of understanding where students are in relation to the grade level work, we do not believe the potential benefits of testing warrant the level of disruption to student instruction during a pandemic. Students have been experiencing increased anxiety and social-emotional challenges, and COVID-19 continues to take a health and economic toll on our communities, educators, students and their families. In addition, our schools and staff continue to face numerous instructional, safety, and logistical challenges. We feel this compromise will help limit additional disruption for our students and families."

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