The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) in partnership with the Colorado PTA has created family guides to the Colorado Academic Standards. The guides are in English and Spanish and are helpful tools for communities across Colorado to better understand the goals and outcomes of the Colorado Academic Standards. The guides also provide overviews of the learning expectations for each grade and content area – providing examples of educational experiences that students can engage in during the school year with the support of their families and communities.
This fall, the Children’s Campaign traveled to Summit Cove Elementary in Summit County to learn how the Colorado Academic Standards look in the classroom. Click here to learn how three different teachers use the Colorado Academic Standards to guide their instruction and how the standards have impacted their teaching practice. Help spread the work by sharing these insightful, brief videos with your friends and family. For more information on the Colorado Academic Standards, click here.
Children’s Campaign President and CEO Chris Watney on Thursday evening urged the Jefferson County School Board to stay the course with Colorado’s high academic standards and assessments. She was invited to present to the board as it considered a resolution to urge the Colorado State Legislature to delay or re-examine assessments aligned with the new Colorado Academic Standards.
The standards are a bipartisan effort started in 2008 to raise expectations and improve outcomes for our kids. Students’ progress on meeting those standards will be measured across the state this school year with new aligned assessments, including those from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC). A few school board members in Colorado, including members in Jefferson County, are pushing to delay work that is already taking place in classrooms across the state.
Watney urged the district, which educates nearly 10 percent of the state’s children, to allow a state task force examining the issue to complete recommendations later this year. In the meantime, she urged the board to continue supporting educators who’ve been moving forward with implementing the system for several years.
“We are asking our students to think big about their futures, and I think we must ask ourselves and our system to do the same,” Watney said. “To turn back would be a disservice not only to Jefferson County educators, but most importantly to Jefferson County kids.”
Rather than vote on the resolution in question, the Jefferson County Board moved to table the resolution and schedule a study session for board members to learn more about the local assessment landscape.
The Children’s Campaign believes teachers, parents, and students have a right to know where they are succeeding and where they are falling behind. The PARCC tests are just one critical tool for helping to determine whether students are on track to master our rigorous standards and providing a shared, clear picture of achievement in our state. Any delay to the implementation of our standards and assessments would be a disservice to educators all over the state who are working hard to implement them with fidelity, but most importantly to kids.
Student assessments are critical tools for parents, educators and community members to know how schools are serving every Colorado child. A recent study commissioned by the Colorado Department of Education is one of the first looks at how our new assessment system tied to the Colorado Academic Standards is performing. The report’s authors at WestEd released their initial findings from survey data and focus groups from districts across the state regarding their attitudes toward testing. The study raised several issues that had been part of the discussion throughout the legislative session: concern over the balance of instructional time and testing time; technology readiness for online tests; and the timeliness of results. The first stage of this study was conducted before the new online social studies and science tests were administered and before the field tests were given in math and English language arts. The second stage of the study, to be completed by July, will follow-up with districts now that the tests have been administered to see how attitudes may have changed.
The WestEd study will be used by the new Standards and Assessments Study Taskforce created through House Bill 1202. On July 15, the taskforce will begin studying the impact of testing on teaching time and the interaction of testing with the state accountability and educator evaluation systems, among other issues. The 15-member taskforce will be appointed by the speaker and minority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives, the president and minority leader of the Colorado Senate, and the chairman of the State Board of Education. The appointed members will represent school districts, school boards, teachers, charter schools, parents, business, students, and PARCC (the consortium of states working together to develop new assessments). The final report and legislative recommendations must be completed by the taskforce no later than Jan. 31, 2015.
We support examining how much time students spend taking assessments throughout the year. Different types of assessments throughout the year provide different information valuable to children, educators, parents and schools to improve student outcomes and experiences. Finding the right balance as we move into a new system of high standards and aligned assessments should be a priority.
On Wednesday, the State Board of Education on a 4-3 vote passed a resolution asking the legislature to stall implementation of new assessments aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards, specifically to pull out of the state’s membership in the Partnership for Assessment Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The resolution is not binding for the legislature, which has already considered—and rejected—attempts to move backward on this issue this session. Janet Prell Anderson, an Evergreen mother, testified that her child—and all Colorado kids—are up to the challenge of higher expectations.
Janet Prell Anderson – Evergreen, CO
State Board of Education Testimony – April 9, 2014
Good afternoon members of the State Board of Education. Thank you for allowing me the time today to speak in support of the Colorado Academic Standards.
I am the parent of two boys, a second grader and a fourth grader at Parmalee Elementary School in Jefferson County. I came here today to let you know that I support the Colorado Academic Standards, including the Common Core State Standards that are incorporated into the standards for English and math. I want to share with you that I already see the new standards impacting my children in positive ways!
My fourth grader recently worked through a writing assignment that had him tied up in knots. He was quite worried about how to accomplish this assignment – a 500-plus word writing exercise challenging the students to enter a known story as a character and change the plot and outcome utilizing specific writing techniques. He could not imagine how he would be able to write such volume and do it well. There were a few tears and some angst as he thought through this assignment.
Over the course of two days, and with the assistance of his wonderful teacher, he came up with a great plan of attack and his writing started to flow. The exercise overall took several weeks, but after that initial anxiety, he began enjoying the challenge. It was so exciting to see his look of pride and sense of accomplishment!
When I spoke with his teacher about this episode and my son’s struggle – she related that it is true that higher standards will push kids out of their comfort zone. They are being stretched to reach new goals and it is in this stretching that real growth occurs.
Although I empathize with my child’s discomfort and certainly don’t want him to start losing sleep over 4th grade schoolwork, I am excited to see him accomplish challenging work. I look forward to more of these experiences, watching both of my sons stretch and grow intellectually!
I ask that you please continue supporting the progress we are making in our schools with the new Colorado Academic Standards and aligned assessments. And I’ll end today with a reminder that a challenge is not inherently bad for our students. I support the new standards because they will challenge my sons, and I know they will meet that challenge head on with the guidance of their teachers and I can be confident each year they will take another step toward being ready for success in their college and career choices.
The world and the economy are much different today than 30 years ago—faster paced, more globally connected and technologically advanced. In order for our students to graduate from high school with the 21st century skills needed to succeed, we must think about how to strengthen our public education offerings.
That’s why educators, parents and school experts across Colorado came together in 2008 to update the Colorado Academic Standards. The 2013-14 school year marks an exciting time as the standards are being fully implemented. These standards, which establish key objectives in 10 content areas, are rigorous expectations of what each student from preschool through grade 12 should be learning every year. The updated standards encourage students to develop critical thinking skills that provide a basis for learning in school and in life rather than old models of memorization. With the more rigorous expectations, our teachers can create curriculum using real-life practical examples and more creative-problem solving. This deeper learning will provide our students with the 21st century skills needed for success in an ever-evolving economic landscape.
The Colorado Academic Standards were created after years of collaboration by Coloradoans and include—but are much more than—the Common Core State Standards in math and English. Opponents of this progress nationwide have been targeting the Common Core State Standards and in some cases that has spread to criticizing the great strides we’ve made in Colorado as well. We hope critics will realize that there is a lot more to the work we’ve done here in Colorado and hope we can all agree that we can’t go back to an education system that doesn’t expect more from our students, educators, parents and community members.
The Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) are a Colorado-based solution to raising our expectations of public education – designed to align what students learn in school with the skills they’ll need for what comes next, whether it’s college or career. These higher standards give parents, colleges, and businesses peace of mind in knowing that a student who holds a degree from a Colorado high school will have the critical thinking and problem solving skills they need for success in college and career.
Next week, the State Board of Education is expected to vote on whether to urge legislators to stall implementation of new assessments aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards, specifically our membership in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Board Chairman Paul Lundeen has called for this discussion to be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9. Following the discussion, State Board members will be called to vote to call on the General Assembly to revoke legislation that required Colorado to join a testing consortia.
The Colorado Children’s Campaign does not support delaying implementation of the Colorado Academic Standards and aligned assessments. The Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) is one of the most outdated state testing systems in use. The tests no longer align to the new, better standards, in place this year. As a result, Colorado developed new science and social studies assessments that align to our new academic expectations. We’ve also joined together with other states through the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) to develop new math and English language arts tests. We support assessments that give us continuous feedback on how our schools are performing for every child and we will continue supporting the implementation of the Colorado Academic Standards and the aligned assessments because they will drive strong expectations and strong outcomes for our kids. Read more about the Colorado Academic Standards and aligned PARCC assessments.
The end-of-year tests in Colorado are improving to match the new, higher levels of expectations of our new Colorado Academic Standards. The new tests are called the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) and they include: science and social studies that will be given for the first time this spring; and English language arts and math tests that are being field-tested now, developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
More than 100 Colorado districts have volunteered to field-test the English language arts and math tests in about 440 schools. Testing the test gives educators and students an opportunity to provide feedback about the new test. Along with the science and social studies tests, the new math and English language arts tests are given online – the field tests give schools and students the chance to try out the new technology. Learn more about the PARCC field tests and take a minute to try the test out.
Students who field-tested the science and social studies tests last year have said:
“I love the test on the computer. I like the tools because they are very handy and I did not have to deal with them falling on the floor all the time.” – Fourth grader
“I really liked how the simulations moved and made the questions easy to understand. I liked how the test was very visual because I am a visual person.” – Eighth grader
“I like taking tests on a computer more than on paper. When it’s on a computer, I feel like I can focus a little bit more.” – Fifth grader
Alternative Health Care Providers Treating Children: SB 14-32 (Lundberg/no House sponsor) would eliminate safeguard provisions designed to protect our youngest children, allowing alternative health care providers to treat children of any age, without limitation around services that can be provided or disclosures regarding training and qualifications. The bill was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee this week and moves to the full Senate. The Children’s Campaign joins the American Academy of Pediatrics-Colorado Chapter and Children’s Hospital Colorado in opposing this legislation. Essential and time-sensitive health care services that all young children need—including immunizations and developmental screenings—can only can be provided by trained medical professionals. SB 32 undermines legislation passed last year to ensure children under age 2 receive these important services. Click here to learn more.
Student Success Act: HB 14-1292 (Hamner, Murray/Johnston), was officially introduced this week and is scheduled for a first hearing Monday, March 3, in the House Education Committee. The legislation strikes a balance between reversing cuts made to K-12 education in recent years and targeting one-time dollars toward the populations hit hardest by the recession. The Student Success Act also aims to strengthen transparency and accountability in our education system by ensuring school-level budget transparency and moving to a multiple-day student counting system. The Children’s Campaign thanks the group of more than 30 legislators from both sides of the aisle for this thoughtful proposal. Read more about the proposal and our position on reinvesting in K-12 education.
Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) Eligibility and Authorization Alignment: HB 14-1022 (Landgraf/Newell) passed out of the Senate unanimously on Friday and is now headed to the governor for his signature. This proposal would help minimize disruptions in child care for low-income families by ensuring that, except in limited cases, CCCAP-eligible families are authorized for child care assistance for a full 12 months. Click here for more details and list of supporters.
Task Force to Study Colorado Academic Standards and Aligned Assessments: HB 14-1202 (Scott/Todd) unanimously passed the House Education committee on Wednesday and now heads to House Appropriation. The legislation has changed since introduction and now establishes a task force to study the impact and importance of Colorado’s standards-based education system. This school year, the Colorado Academic Standards were implemented across the state. Next week, students will take the new state-developed social studies and science assessments. Next year, the new math and English/language arts assessments will be implemented. The Children’s Campaign is excited to see the implementation of these thoughtful and necessary changes across the state and welcomes a task force to analyze the implementation of these critical policies. We will continue to monitor this relevant conversation.
Highly Effective Teachers Program: HB 14-1262 (Priola) would have created a program to enable school districts and charter schools to offer salary bonuses to attract highly effective teachers to low-performing schools. This effort would have supported schools seeking to implement aggressive turnaround plans to boost student performance. Children’s Campaign Vice President of Education Reilly Pharo testified in support of the bill and the strong evidence that it would drive achievement in struggling schools. The House Education Committee rejected this legislation by a vote of 6-7, primarily due to fiscal concerns.