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Rural Colorado Districts Lead State in Opting Out of Exams

Two small, rural Colorado school districts are boasting the highest opt-out rates on the state's elementary and middle school science and social studies tests, according to a story by Chalkbeat Colorado.

The Mancos school district and the Buffalo school district, situated on opposite corners of Colorado, had opt-out rates as high as 100 percent for some grade levels. In Mancos, Superintendent Brian Hanson told Chalkbeat Colorado that opposition has been growing and is reflective of the small community. "In small communities people place a value in a lot of things, not just test scores," Hanson said. "I think there's more to a kid than that test score. Our community agrees with that."

In Buffalo, Superintendent Rob Sanders said in the article that opposition started to grow after the state Board of Education approved a resolution to exempt school districts from penalties due to low participation rates. Both are part of an alliance of rural school districts that are developing a testing and accountability system that encompasses more than test scores.

The movement reflects a larger trend in Colorado's of small, rural districts seeking waivers or exemptions from the state's education laws due to the unique aspects of these districts. Some rural schools in the state have been concerned about linking test scores to teacher evaluations because of the small sample sizes at those schools and have opted out of the state's evaluation system. Several rural schools that opted out of the Common Core State Standards exams may be able to design and pilot their own exams under new legislation.

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