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Thursday Churn: Testing preview

What’s churning:

The State Board of Education today gets a closer look at what may ultimately replace CSAP tests when it’s briefed by representatives of two groups developing multi-state achievement tests.

The board has set aside an hour and 45 minutes to hear from the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium Presentation and the Partnership for Assessment and Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC.

The tests being developed by the two groups may be of higher interest to the board because of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s decision not to fund development of Colorado-only tests in 2012-13.

The 2008 Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids required new state tests that match the new state content standards, and those tests were supposed to roll out in the spring of 2014. The last CSAPs were given this past spring and transitional tests dubbed the TCAPs will be given in 2012 and 2013.

The Colorado Department of Education asked for $25 million in next year’s budget to develop new tests, but the administration declined to include the money in its budget request to the legislature. Story

CDE isn’t throwing in the towel yet. Education Commissioner Robert Hammond told the board Wednesday that the department will try to make a case for test development funding to the Joint Budget Committee. “We have every intent of continuing to pursue this with the legislature,” he said, calling use of multi-state tests “a definite alternative.”

Using multi-state tests wouldn’t necessary save the state huge amounts of money. Colorado still would have to pay for development of new science tests and new alternative tests for special education students. The consortia are developing only language arts and math tests, based on the Common Core Standards.

The consortia, which are made up groups of states including Colorado, are funded with a slice of federal Race to the Top money. It’s not expected their tests would be available before 2015. Learn more about SMARTER Balanced here and get details on PARCC here.

The documentary American Teacher is being shown this weekend as part of the Starz Denver Film Festival. Denver’s East High School is sponsoring the film’s screening at 11:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Denver Film Center. It includes a number of local connections, from parts of a video diary kept by teacher Amanda Lueck Grell, an interview with former Denver teachers’ union activist-turned-administrator Brad Jupp and discussion of Denver’s innovative ProComp pay plan. Tickets are available here.

The film chronicles the lives of four teachers living and working in disparate areas of the country. It’s based on the New York Times–bestselling book Teachers Have It Easy by journalist and teacher Daniel Moulthrop; Nínive Calegari, cofounder of the 826 National writing programs, and writer Dave Eggers. Actor Matt Damon serves as narrator for a film viewed as a counterpoint to last year’s Waiting for Superman. Journalist Dana Goldstein takes a critical look at both documentaries in this article for The Slate.

What’s on tap:

Denver Public Schools board members have a 4:30 p.m. work session and a 6:30 p.m. public comment session at 900 Grant St. The agenda includes presentations on West Leadership Academy and Merrill Middle School. You can now watch DPS board meetings on the web here.

Jefferson County’s school board has a special 7 p.m. meeting to swear in new members Jill Fellman and Lesley Dahlkemper, who were elected Nov. 1. It’s at district headquarters, 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. Agenda.

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