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Douglas County

School board wants waiver from state test

Douglas County joins Jeffco in seeking opt-out


Though questions still surround the state's ability to allow it, the Douglas County School Board voted Jan. 20 to submit a waiver from a lengthy standardized March test.

If the board's request is granted, that means students wouldn't have to take part of the PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College & Career test. The new state assessment of reading, writing and math skills is scheduled to be given to all third- through 11th-grade students this spring.

It's a sister test to the CMAS, or Colorado Measures of Academic Success, which assessed students' social studies and science skills. Thousands of Colorado seniors refused to take the CMAS in late 2014, with many saying the six-hour test had no bearing on their futures and took time away from other, more relevant studies.

The Colorado Board of Education voted Jan. 8 to allow school districts to seek waivers from administering the first part of PARCC tests. Questions have arisen over whether the board has the authority to grant the waivers.

Nevertheless, the Jefferson County Board of Education approved a Jan. 15 resolution also seeking a waiver from PARCC assessments.

“We know at the state level it's not settled,” Douglas County School Board president Kevin Larsen said. “But some of us are now saying, `We'd like to get in line.' Whatever door has been opened by the state board, we want to explore it.”

The Douglas County School Board's resolution states the board seeks to honor widespread concern on “the negative effects of reducing instruction time in order to conduct additional state assessments, and the unnecessary costs of administering such additional state assessments," and supports the creation of “quality, local assessments that measure what matters most for its students … and recognize a parent's right to exempt their students from the statewide standardized tests without risk of a penalty …”

The resolution authorizes Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen to apply for the waivers and develop a contingency plan if the waiver request isn't granted.  

“We need less meddling from the federal level,” said Larsen, who called last fall's effort to test seniors “an abject failure.”

“I think the best oversight's done at the local level,” he said.

The CMAS and PARCC replace both the original Colorado Student Assessment Program that was administered until 2011, and the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, issued in 2012 and 2013.

Colorado students in fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth grades underwent CMAS testing in spring 2014.


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