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More Families Opting Out Of New School Assessment Tests

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) - New school assessment tests are going on this week across Colorado. The math and English tests gauge whether students in grades three through 11 meet academic standards, but some families are opting out of the tests.

Thousands of parents are giving schools official notice that their children will not take part -- and students are protesting a system they say fails them.

"At the high school level we're often tested on things that we aren't learning," Poudre High School senior Emma Campbell said.

Members of the Fort Collins student group called The Anti-Test want standardized assessments dropped until changes can be made.

"No one is asking, 'How are we getting accurate data from these tests when half of the students are asleep?' " Poudre High School senior Anson MacKinney said.

After a school year's-worth of movements against tests like PARCC, state educators say they will not to punish districts with low test turnout. But schools could still lose funding because Colorado is tied to a federal agreement that requires 95 percent participation.

"It shouldn't come down to, 'Oh my God, we're going to lose funding.' It should be a question as to why we're losing funding for students that are sleeping on their tests," MacKinney said.

The tests are meant to gauge the effectiveness of teaching from school to school. Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, the former president of CSU-Pueblo, says fears over the tests are overblown.

"The testing that was developed by educators as a result of standards that we created here in our state for Colorado students because we want Colorado students to be competitive with students from all around the country," Garcia said.

The test, which is taken online, breaks the tradition of standardized tests. It requires students to answer in a variety of forms instead of filling out bubbles. Supporters say opting out of the test could devalue the meaning of a Colorado education.

"What we've been trying to do as a state is ensure that a diploma from one district means as much as a diploma from another district," Garcia said.

In a letter to parents released Monday, Denver Public Schools acknowledged that standardized tests are still too long, but said they are considerably better than they used to be.

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