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An Open Letter to the Colorado General Assembly and Governor John Hickenlooper

April 6, 2015

An Open Letter to the Colorado General Assembly and Governor John Hickenlooper.
As parents, community leaders, educators, and civic and business leaders, we are writing to show our support for reducing the amount of testing in K-12 schools while maintaining our state’s nationally recognized accountability system.
SB-223 undermines the core of why we assess students and schools – to get a sense of how all students across the state are performing. The bill removes critical consequences that are at the very heart of our state’s accountability system, which provides useful educator evaluations, transparency into school and district performance, and information to identify the students and schools in need of more support.
Because of testing, we can see which schools are growing and replicate that success, which is critical to ensure that Colorado’s kids are ready for Colorado’s jobs. In just five years, 74 percent of Colorado jobs will require a post-secondary degree or certificate. Less than a quarter of Colorado’s students currently receive that level of training. Colorado’s students deserve a better guarantee for their future.
For our children to succeed, we need to regularly assess their growth and underscore to them the importance of doing so. Testing is not just a necessary part of responsible academic development, it is also a constant throughout life. In school and then throughout adulthood, our students will be required to compete in many ways, and academic tests are part of that preparation.
Furthermore, students need to take these important tests because they provide critical information for a credible, comparable school rating system. This measure is essential for any parent who is looking to pick a school in Colorado’s open enrollment system.
Assessments allow the state, schools and parents to monitor performance and intervene, when necessary, to give students the appropriate support to master the skills, knowledge, and behaviors needed for college and career success.
One of the great benefits of the statewide annual test is that it reveals gaps in performance between students of different race, gender, or socioeconomic status. To put a finer point on it, the tests give the broader community the information needed to see if schools are providing an equitable education to all kids.
As a broad group of civic leaders and community members, we continue to support the accountability laws in place. We know that it is possible to address the over-testing issue without jeopardizing these important system safeguards. We ask you to oppose SB-223 and reject any other proposal that undermines these core principles.