Colorado House District-55 Representative Ray Scott (R) of Grand Junction introduced his bill, “Local Accountability for School Districts (HB 1202)” to the House Education Committee yesterday. Representative Scott’s designed his bill to provide a legislative mechanism for school districts wanting to opt out of onerous state and federal testing mandates, and implement their own, locally-designed, assessment tools.
In the introduction to the bill, Ray Scott cites the educational cost of a high number of school days spent in assessment as the number of instruction days on school calendars is trending downward.
HB 1202 promotes increased local accountability through common-sense applications of testing methodology, tailored to the needs of local students, and not the one-size-fits-all standards imposed by bureaucrats in state and federal government. The wording in the bill emphasizes:
A high quality, rigorous assessment system should the primary focus of assessment practices. Uniformity for uniformity’s sake should not trump a school district’s goal of exceeding minimum state standards.
Balanced Assessment includes the following assessment practices that provide rigorous authentic performance expectations and produce meaningful, timely, descriptive results:
- Formative – occur frequently, embedded within teaching & learning,
- Interim – periodic checks, track progress toward learning targets,
- Summative – at the end of learning, assess degree of mastery.
The majority of these assessments occur at the classroom level, with common assessments at the school level and state mandated assessments at the district level.
- Daily & Weekly – classroom level assessments as part of teaching and learning
- Monthly &/or Quarterly – school level assessments to track progress
- Semester &/or Annual – school level and district level to assess degree of mastery
Teachers employ a wide variety of strategies to assess student learning in meaningful ways and help build an informative student body of evidence.
Accountability: The school district would direct the selection and administration of the balanced assessment system within its schools. All assessments with the balanced assessment system would meet the following requirements:
- Quality Assessment – meet or exceed the quality assessment standards reflected in the State’s assessment review process.
- Performance Rigor – meet or exceed the assessment of Colorado Academic Standards, 21st Century skills, career & college readiness and higher order thinking skills
- Relevancy to Teaching & Learning – meet or exceed the relevancy expectations as reflected in Standards 1-5 of Educator Effectiveness,
- Technical Rigor – meet or exceed the appropriate technical rigor requirements as reflected in Standard 6 of Educator Effectiveness.
- Public accessibility to school and district results on the balanced assessment system.
The school district would annually administer the state PARCC performance assessments in select grades (3,8,10), as well as Colorado ACT, providing continued accountability and statewide comparability.
Representative Scott’s bill also addresses “parent refusals” which place schools in the position of giving zero scores to those students who, for a variety of reasons, refuse to participate in protracted standardized assessments. HB 1202 exempts schools and districts from having to include those zero scores in their overall achievement statistics.
Ray Scott’s bill follows on the heels of the “Colorado Mom’s Bill,” SB-14 136, introduced by Senator Vicki Marble (R), Senate District 23, which unfortunately failed to progress in the State Assembly. SB-14 136 would have delayed the implementation of the highly controversial “Common Core” standards in Colorado for one year, giving the State Board of Education as well as school districts time to review and prepare for its intrusive mandates. The Colorado Mom’s Bill would also give school districts a way to opt out of the related testing required by the new state and federal standards.
There is a growing uneasiness in Colorado regarding the impact of Common Core and its related assessments. Pressure is building on Capitol Hill to get legislators to pay attention to the concerns of teachers, and administrators already struggling under huge administrative burdens in their schools, and the citizens and parents who understand that the bureaucratic takeover of local learning never has a good outcome.