Across the Street: Testing, testing … just around the corner |

Across the Street: Testing, testing … just around the corner

Joyce Rankin/For Craig Press
Joyce Rankin
Courtesy photo

Do you remember the Iowa Test of Basic Skills? Yikes, was it that long ago? ITBS, developed in 1935 by the University of Iowa, was administered as a tool for improving kindergarten through eighth-grade education. Students took tests at each grade level to determine how they were learning.

In 2017, Iowa’s new testing program, Next Generation Iowa Assessments, was rolled out. Nearly all the school districts in Iowa currently use this assessment tool. Many other states are also using Iowa’s tests. Over the years, other tests have been developed by different testing companies, and Colorado, it seems, has tried more than a few.

Colorado has changed tests, over time, in attempts to align with the Colorado State Standards. There have been ongoing concerns with the time it takes to administer tests and turnaround time, but these times have improved.

Following is a review of the latest progression of testing in Colorado.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test was replaced in 2017 in favor of the Colorado Measurements of Academic Standards tests in math and English language arts (AKA reading, writing and arithmetic). These tests are 90 minutes shorter than previous tests. CMAS tests are given every year in third through ninth grades. Social studies, which encompasses history, geography, civics and economics, is administered on a sampling basis, with schools participating once every three years. Science tests are taken in grades five, eight and 10.

The college entrance exam, or SAT, is taken in 11th grade, with the preliminary tests — PSAT 9 and PSAT 10 — given in ninth and 10th grades, respectively.

The meaning of the acronym SAT is complicated. Originally, it stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test. Then, the name changed to Scholastic Assessment Test. In 1997 the people who created the test announced the acronym SAT no longer stands for anything.

This year, testing will take place April 9 through 27.

The SAT can be used for college admission and is known as a “high stakes” test. Students try to get the highest score possible, and there are strict protocols for test administration: Students must sit at least four feet apart, if students talk during the test, they will be dismissed and not receive scores and students arriving after the exam begins are not admitted. Last month, the New York Post reported cheating by 200 students at a Bronx high school. Students broke every rule set forth by proctors of the exams. For such a high stakes test, it is imperative that strict rules of protocol are followed.

We’ve gone from Iowa Tests of Basic Skills to SAT. But what about the Kuder Preference Test? Remember that one? When you finish taking it, you will get an idea of your career path. I just completed the free online version: I’m destined to be a teacher! Whew!

Joyce Rankin, a retired teacher, represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District on the State Board of Education. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street,” to share with constituents in her district. The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the State Capitol. Rankin is also a legislative assistant to state Rep. Bob Rankin.


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