New school state assessment tests to take effect in 2011-12 school year
March 26, 2010
Thursday was no ordinary day at Craig Middle School.
Just before 10 a.m., all 550 students milled around the commons area, grabbing last-minute snacks before filing into their classrooms.
At 10 a.m. sharp, they were all in their seats, preparing themselves for 90 minutes of the Colorado Student Assessment Program test.
Counselor Michelle Henderson, who was in charge of making sure students got where they needed to go during the weeklong testing period, said it was a busy and occasionally stressful time for the students.
"For the most part, they take the test seriously," Henderson said. "I think some of them feel the pressure of trying to do better than years before. I think it's very beneficial as long as they take it seriously, but there will always be those few kids who just blow it off."
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Although significant updates in curriculum and assessments are currently underway at the state level, it doesn't look as if the CSAP is going anywhere.
But, it will have a new face and new content as early as 2012.
Senate Bill 08-212, also known as the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids (CAP4K), was passed in 2008, which called for both school readiness and post-secondary and workforce readiness assessments.
Under the bill, the state is required to adopt a revised state assessment, like CSAP, that is aligned with updated content standards.
The new Colorado Academic Standards, adopted by the State Board of Education on Dec. 10, 2009, are designed to reflect early school readiness, post-secondary competencies and 21st century skills, Colorado Department of Education officials said.
Moffat County School District officials said the district is well on its way to aligning with those standards before 2012.
"In our district, we are moving forward differently," assistant superintendent Christine Villard said. "We've already started. The curriculum is all written and by the end of this year, the math curriculum will be on board with new standards."
This week, CDE released a "crosswalk" document to school districts, which highlight the changes from old to new standards.
One of those changes means making curriculum requirements more specific to grade-level benchmarks.
New state content standards also mean new state assessments, or a rewritten CSAP test.
"The test content will be somewhat different," Villard said. "And, what I'm understanding and hearing from the state is that it will be more the way students are tested that will be different."
She said possibilities include testing more specific to secondary subject matter.
For example, instead of testing 10th graders on math, a high school student will take a CSAP test on algebra whenever he or she finishes the course.
Villard also mentioned the possibility of adding more tests, or "progress monitoring assessments" throughout the year.
Henderson said that standardized testing will most likely remain a part of elementary and middle school education, but there are more benefits than just reflecting growth to state education officials.
It could help individual students lay out paths to their futures.
"Coming from a high school setting, those kids have to take things like ACTs or SATs to help them get into college," Henderson said. "It's great practice for them having to sit still and take the tests and understand the seriousness of it."
While the new CSAP will not be implemented until 2012, the new content standards are already being worked into Moffat County's curriculum updates.
"We just have completed the new curriculum and have started the first level of the draft," Villard said. "We align any of our new curriculum to the new standards."
After the math standards are finished this year, the next step will be kindergarten through fourth-grade literacy curriculum.
"Teachers are liking the new standards," Villard said. "They're specific, concrete and incorporate application and 21st century thinking skills."