Standardized test bills struggle to catch on at Colorado Capitol

Just how many state standardized tests Colorado’s public school children should have to take is proving to be a vexing question for state lawmakers.

With only weeks to go in the legislative session, lawmakers have struggled to respond to the public backlash over the amount of testing in schools. Monday, after several hours of testimony, the sponsor of a House bill asked that action on the bill be postponed.

Rep. John Buckner, D-Aurora, said his bill needed more work. The bill would eliminate state tests in 11th and 12th grades and make ninth grade tests optional.

Witnesses had different opinions on whether students should take tests in 9th grade.Education reform groups and business groups argued for 9th grade tests, saying that they’re needed for integrity of state’s growth model, which measures students’ year to year academic progress as compared to peers at similar academic levels.

A representative from the Colorado Education Association testified that the organization doesn’t want 9thgrade tests, or social studies tests. They’d like to stick to only tests that are required by the federal government.

Others testified that the bill overlooks the “overwhelming discontent” with the state testing system. They argued that the bill doesn’t go far enough in cutting testing.

The bill would also hold schools and districts harmless from state accountability measures through the next school year.

A different bill backed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to streamline testing died several weeks ago. Still another testing bill will be heard Thursday afternoon in the Senate.