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Are you ready for the CMAS tests?

Colorado kids are scheduled to get new statewide tests in the spring of 2015 to replace the TCAP exams, but up to now the new tests haven’t had a name.

The word on the street is that the Colorado Department of Education wants to call them the CMAS tests – shorthand for Colorado Measures of Academic Success.

If you’re keeping track of the acronyms, the current TCAP tests stand for Transitional Colorado Assessment Program. They started in school year 2011-12, as the state started to move away from old academic content standards. Those tests replaced the venerable CSAP (Colorado Student Assessment Program) tests, which started their long run in the 1990s.

The Colorado Department of Education hasn’t formally announced the new name. But the plan was laid out in a recent email from Janelle Asmus, CDE communications chief, to district communications staffers. EdNews got its hands on a copy of the email.

“With input from CDE staff, parents, school PR chiefs, several local and national PR firms, advocacy groups and several lobbyists, we’ve come up with a new name for the new state assessments,” Asmus wrote. She continued:

“People weighed-in with their preferences and indicated they best liked the name they believed was descriptive of the test’s value – not a just calling it a test or assessment – hence, the term ‘measures.’ They rated Colorado Measures of Academic Success highest because they liked the fact that ‘success’ focused on the value to students. People also agreed that no matter what we called them, the name will likely be reduced to an acronym. People were okay with that.

“CDE will do a soft launch of the name so people can start accurately referring to the new tests and the appropriate roll-out provisions can be made. CDE opted not to do a big announcement with the public right now as our research indicates people will be confused that we’re announcing the new name of state tests while we’re still administering the TCAP tests this spring.”

Asmus also wrote that CDE and district public relations types will be working on a communications plan for launching the new tests. “Our message will focus on ‘new tests, new name, new scores.’” Part of the message will be explaining to the public that average achievement scores will drop, as always happens with new tests.

Colorado students will take TCAP tests this coming spring, and students in four elementary and middle school grades will face new online science and social studies exams. In the spring of 2015 all students will take language arts and math tests developed by the multi-state PARCC group and based on the Common Core Standards.

See this recent EdNews story for the details on the coming changes in Colorado tests.

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