The State Is Pausing All End-Of-Year Assessments For The Remainder Of The School Year

Discovery Link supervisor Jennifer Piel teaches kids at Carson Elementary how to wash their hands. March 13, 2020.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Discovery Link supervisor Jennifer Piel teaches kids at Carson Elementary how to wash their hands. March 13, 2020.

The Colorado Department of Education said it will pause all end-of-year assessments for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. The announcement came Tuesday after mass school closure swept the state to slow the spread of COVID-19. The pause also includes the Colorado Measures of Academic Success.

“Students and educators need to feel the sense of stability and normalcy before state tests can be administered and produce valid results,” Colorado Education Commissioner Kathy Anthes said in a press release. “This also means we plan to pause our school and district state accountability system as it relates to state assessments for a year.”

Schools that fall in the lowest two ratings out of the five under the state accountability system get more resources and support from the state. Nearly 4 percent of schools are in the two lowest ratings. If schools stay at those low levels and continue to underperform for five years, they become at-risk for a complete overhaul, which can mean anything from changing to a charter school or closing. 

Colorado Measures of Academic Success is the state’s common measurement of students’ progress at the end of the year for English, math, science, and social studies. Students in grades three through eight take tests in math and English. Students in fifth, eight, and 11th grades take the science assessments. 

In 2020, a third of all schools were supposed to administer the state's social studies assessment in grades four through seven. 

The education department is also working with The College Board to provide solutions for administering PSAT and SAT tests. Those tests are not postponed at this time. In 2019, 63,042 ninth-graders took the PSAT, 60,722 10th graders took the PSAT and 57,973 took the SAT.

The department said it will continue working with schools and districts that are already identified for improvement to help support instruction. This includes options for instruction during and after school closures. 

The federal government requires states to administer math, English,and science tests for students from third through eighth grade every year. It also requires it once for high school students. The state also said it will be working with the U.S. Department of Education to get around these requirements and will apply for a waiver if necessary. Guidance on testing was released Thursday, March 12.