Standardized testing

The State of Colorado recently asked the federal government for more time to negotiate its standardized test policies in regard to federal requirements and parents’ rights. Commissioner Katy Anthes reached out to the feds and asked for an extension to figure out the policy. The State of Colorado wants to both meet federal education requirements for academic testing but also wants to respect the rights of children and families who don’t wish to take the mandatory tests.

The State has recently received notice from the U.S. Department of Education that Colorado’s failure to penalize schools that fall below the 95% participation rate does not match the newly updated Every Student Succeeds Act. The notice came after Colorado submitted its educational plans for formal review under the new policy.

Colorado is either required to enforce the 95% threshold across the state and change the language in its education plan or ask for an extension. The requirement comes as many states are experimenting with U.S. Dept. of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s policy of allowing states to have more control over their educational policies.

Standardized tests have come under fire during the past several years. Critics argue that standardized tests only reward students that specialize in this type of test-taking and are not an accurate reflection of the student’s intelligence. Critics liken standardized tests to asking a both a squirrel and a fish to display their physical prowess by climbing a tree.

The Federal Department of Education monitors these standardized test scores across the country and uses the score as a factor in deciding where federal education money goes and how much. The feds argue that standardized tests are one of the most accurate ways to gauge the overall success of both a school and its student body.

Colorado wishes to allow parents to withdraw their children from standardized testing should they want to but without a high participation rate in these standardized tests Colorado may miss out on crucial funding to help its students. How the State of Colorado and the Feds come to a resolution remains to be seen but Colorado policymakers are hoping new Secretary DeVos’s state-first education policy will allow them the flexibility on testing.