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Colorado Lawmakers Cut Testing Requirements by Focusing on Older Students

The Colorado Legislature has approved a bill that would cut statewide standardized testing by eliminating requirements for social studies exams and cutting back

Lawmakers passed House Bill 1323 by wide margins on May 6 and sent it to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for his signature. The House legislation was one of two testing-reduction proposals in Colorado that I wrote about earlier this week. 

The legislation restricts the state education department to administering English/language arts and math tests in grades 3-8 and to 10th graders. It also requires statewide science testing once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school. According to an analysis of the final bill, it also eliminates the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) exams for high school juniors and seniors, as well as statewide social studies exams. It preserves the PARCC test for 9th graders, a key point of contention in the legislature, and replaces the PARCC test with an unspecified college entrance exam.

The legislation also allows districts to seek to give statewide exams in paper-and-pencil formats instead of online. And as I reported, it also allows districts to explore administering local assessments instead of state exams through a pilot program. This two-year program, however, would require approval from the U.S. Department of Education.

Colorado has been examining the nature and cost of state exams for nearly a year now, and lawmakers such as Democratic Sen. Mike Johnston, a key education policymaker in the state, indicated that a great number of obstacles were overcome to reach final passage of House BIll 1323. 

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