Mar 2, 2022 - News

High-stakes school testing returns with a caveat

Illustration of a standardized test answer sheet with a cursor

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Colorado will require standardized tests for public school students this academic year after a two-year, pandemic-induced hiatus; but the results will come with a caveat.

What to watch: A bipartisan bill that would issue school and district ratings this fall based on the new test scores won unanimous approval in the state Senate on Tuesday and is poised for passage in the House.

Yes, but: The results would factor into the accountability system but not until it restarts in fall of 2023, our education partners at Chalkbeat report.

  • The legislation also would allow more schools with lower scores to get improvement grants, tapping at least $1 million in federal coronavirus relief money.

What they're saying: "In deference to the pandemic last year, we paused the accountability system; but we can't now just flip a switch," said Sen. Rachel Zenzinger (D-Arvada) in a statement.

Why it matters: Students' standardized test performance determines school and district ratings as part of the state's accountability system.

Context: The arrival of COVID-19 led to the cancellation of testing in spring 2020, and in 2021 districts dialed it back, allowing students to take either a literacy or math test.

  • The limited results had led to a pause on the school ratings.

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