The Common Core State Standards Initiative, a set of K-12 math and language arts curriculum benchmarks and high-stakes standardized tests now implemented in most states, is deeply unpopular for many reasons. Perhaps chief among those reasons is an entrenched aversion by parents, teachers and students to high-stakes standardized tests.
On Wednesday night, the school board of Colorado Springs School District 11, the main school district in Colorado’s second-largest city, voted unanimously (and vociferously) to opt most students out of Common Core’s standardized testing regime.
School district superintendent Nicholas Gledich will now seek permission from the state department of education to abandon statewide testing, The Gazette reports.
Under the district’s plan, students in district schools would be randomly selected to take Colorado’s battery of standardized tests. The number would be sufficient to meet federal minimum requirements — and thus keep federal cash flowing to the state and the district.
“One size does not fit all,” Gledich pronounced just before the board voted, according to the Colorado Springs newspaper. “Colorado Springs School District 11 believes in assessments and accountability. We’re asking for flexibililty.”
The district would be the first one in Colorado to abandon standardized tests, which take considerable time to administer and to prepare students for.
Parents from all over the state who attended the school board meeting were elated with the decision. According to them, the less time their children spend slogging through standardized tests, the more time they’ll have to devote to actual education.
“I’m so excited that D-11 has taken a stand,” Sarah Sampayo, a parent from a nearby school district, told regional NBC affiliate KOAA.
“I want my young kids to enjoy education and learning,” another parent, Kelly Conn, said, according to the station. “I don’t want them staring at a test for hours day, after day, after day.”
Conn, the mother of a fifth grader and a high school freshman, added that she hopes the Colorado Springs School District 11 school board’s decision will reverberate throughout the state.
“Hopefully it will creep into Jefferson County, it will creep into Denver, it will creep into Littleton,” she said.
The decision was definitely popular locally. Exactly no one at the meeting opposed the move, according to KOAA.
It’s not at all clear if the local board of education’s gambit will succeed.
As The Gazette notes, the state department of education has no formalized mechanism for school districts to opt out of statewide tests. On the bright side, the move doesn’t appear to be prohibited, either.
Complicating matters is the fact that Colorado is a governing member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a fairly complex consortium that produces computer-based standardized tests for several states.
In April, Colorado’s board of education narrowly voted to seek legislative approval to leave the multistate consortium.