A bill intended to delay certain statewide assessments in Colorado schools was recently introduced to the Colorado General Assembly.
Senate Bill 14-136 is intended to push back the implementation of Common Core State Standards in Colorado schools to the 2015-16 school year in order to study its effects. Under the terms of the bill, schools would continue to use the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) for one more year instead of testing from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
The legislation also would create the Colorado Academic Standards Task Force — consisting of the chairman of the State Board of Education, state legislators and selected members of the state board, parents and educators — to begin holding public hearings this summer and report findings and recommendations by the end of 2015.
This week saw a summary of the fiscal impact of the proposal, which would require $310,000 in state expenditures from the Colorado Department of Education’s General Fund during the 2014-15 fiscal year, which includes a small staffing increase to manage the project work of the task force.
Brandi Meek, Moffat County chair of the Republican Committee, said she felt the bill was a smart move by Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, the primary sponsor.
“When you’re talking about something on this grand of a scale, it’s probably a good idea to look into it before full implementation to make sure that it’s effective,” Meek said. “I’ve heard of a lot of people who are not fans of the Common Core ideology.”
Northwest Colorado legislators Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, and Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, are among the bill’s many co-sponsors.
Rankin said his support for SB 136 is part of his own feelings about having worthwhile evaluations of the educational system and making sure said system works for the people of Colorado.
“I am totally against the idea of Washington dictating what we should teach our students, and everybody interprets Common Core to be that,” he said. “At the same time, I think we need to have testing, and we need to separate those two issues before we get too excited about it. We’ve got to continue to measure performance in the schools so we can put money in the right places and to do that we need some kind of evaluation.”
Should SB 136 pass, the cost of bringing the task force together is one Rankin feels would be considerable but still meager compared to other educational expenses.
Moffat County School District Superintendent Joe Petrone said he wondered if the costs of delaying the implementation of PARCC testing wouldn’t ultimately hurt the state and its school districts financially.
While Petrone is unsure if the delay would be best for Colorado schools, an extended period to examine the issues involved with Common Core is something he believes could be positive, as well.
“If during that deliberation that assists our educators in quality implementation and allows us more time to prepare for these high stakes tests, then our students and teachers will be receiving the benefit,” Petrone said. “It would also be very satisfying for our parents because that’s what we want out of any assessment project, to help us get better with the kids we see in our classrooms on a daily basis.”
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.