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Colorado teachers demand state drop PARCC tests

A majority of delegates at an annual meeting of the Colorado Education Association approved a resolution “demanding the state’s withdrawal from the PARCC assessment, and to call for a moratorium on high stakes standardized testing,” according to a statement from the statewide teachers union.

The resolution, which charges CEA to join coalitions that oppose high-stakes testing, was passed April 12 during the union’s annual Delegate Assembly. More than 500 union members — including current teachers, retirees and bus drivers from across the state — attended the weekend meeting, which sets the union’s policy agenda for the year.

The conference is not usually opened to media. Chalkbeat Colorado first learned of the resolution from social media updates from delegates.

The delegate vote comes two months after a CEA survey found its members believe there is too much testing and not enough instructional time. The vote also follows a similar resolution passed by the State Board of Education asking the Colorado General Assembly to allow the education department here to develop its own standardized assessments instead of using the multi-state PARCC tests.

Colorado students are expected to begin taking the PARCC — short for Partnership for Assessments of Readiness for College and Career — tests next spring. Some 400 Colorado schools just completed a trial run of the exams.

The aim of the PARCC tests is to measure student proficiency and academic growth, or how much a student learns year-over-year compared to their peers, against the Colorado Academic Standards, which are based on the national Common Core State Standards.

Supporters of the new assessments believe the results will allow Colorado policy makers, school leaders, and parents to compare student successes here with those in other states participating in the PARCC coalition.

The statement from CEA concludes:

Teachers are not ‘anti-testing’; in fact, teachers invented testing to examine student growth and improve classroom instruction. However, educators cannot passively sit on the sidelines and watch a corporate-driven testing agenda strangle the quality and rigor of a public school education they’ve worked so hard to deliver to students over their careers. We will work collaboratively with other concerned groups to determine standardized testing’s proper role in our schools that supports all students in a positive, meaningful way.

Because Colorado’s involvement in the PARCC group is tied to state statute, it seems unlikely any action will be taken this year. The General Assembly must adjourn by May 7.

Some states that have previously pulled out of the PARCC exams include Florida and Indiana. States still participating include New Mexico and Massachusetts.

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