FAQ: HB21-1161: Suspend Statewide Assessments for Select Grades
What does HB21-1161: Suspend Statewide Assessments For Select Grades do?
HB21-1161 directs the Colorado Department of Education to submit a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education to reduce CMAS testing this year.
Here is what the legislation does in a nutshell:
Part 1: Assessment Waiver
- Suspends the Science CMAS test for spring 2021
- This was not fully approved by the US Department Of Education (USDOE).
- Per the USDOE’s approval of Colorado’s waiver, the Science CMAS test must be given in 8th grade.
- Suspends the Social Studies CMAS test for spring 2021
- Students in grades 3, 5, and 7 will take the ELA CMAS assessment (only)
- Students in grades 4, 6, and 8 will take the Math CMAS assessment (only)
- Parents may opt-in their student to the additional testing ELA/MATH assessment at each grade level
Part 2: Accountability Waiver
- The accountability process is waived for the 2021-2022 school year.
- The bill prohibits the use of student academic growth measures or student performance measures in evaluations, including from CMAS for the 2021-2022 school year
- Schools and districts that are ‘on the clock’ will have a process to appeal their rating even with the accountability process waived.
What if a parent wants their child to take both the ELA and Math CMAS assessments?
Parents will have an option to request their child take both ELA and Math assessments, but school districts will have flexibility on how they offer the second test.
What is the status of CMAS testing this year?
HB21-1161 has been signed by Governor Polis.
The Colorado Department of Education has submitted a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education. The waiver was submitted in two parts.
- Part one is a waiver for assessments. This is the waiver for reducing testing for the 20-21 year. The waiver was APPROVED with one caveat, the CMAS science assessment will be given at 8th grade. The approval letter from the U.S. Department of Education can be found here.
- Part two is the accountability waiver, which will waive the accountability process, prohibit student growth and performance data in educator evaluations, and allow the appeal process. The waiver was APPROVED. CEA worked with the National Education Association to advocate at the federal level to expedite the approval of Colorado’s waiver. The approval letter from the U.S. Department of Education can be found here.
What other information do educators and parents need to know about CMAS testing this year?
These components were not part of HB21-1161 but were discussed as part of the conversations:
- It is presumed that fully remote students will not take CMAS assessments, unless parents opt them in. School districts will notify families who have chosen remote learning for the school year of the option to come in to take the CMAS.
- School districts will have flexibility when it comes to the administration of make-up tests.
- As a reminder, parent refusal is part of existing Colorado law. Parents are still able to make the choice they feel is best for their respective students.
Does HB21-1161 allow school districts to require that students take all CMAS assessments in 2020-21 unless their parents/guardians opt out?
No. HB21-1161 requires the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to suspend the ELA state assessment for students in grades 4, 6, and 8. Similarly, the new law requires CDE to suspend the math state assessment for students in grades 3, 5, and 7. However, parents/guardians may request that their child be allowed to participate in ELA or math assessments from which they are waived under the new law. In those situations, it is the responsibility of parents/guardians — not school districts — to opt students in to assessments they are not otherwise scheduled to take this year.
What if my school/district says it wants to give all portions of the CMAS exam?
Please contact your local president and/or UniServ staff and let them know your school/district is considering this. A list of UniServ offices can be found here.