High school students in Colorado have banded together in protest of the state’s most recent standardized test for seniors, according to The Denver Post. A YouTube video created by high school students details their many grievances over the Colorado Measure of Academic Success or, CMAS.
The new tests in science and social studies are an unnecessary stressor for seniors who still face the SATs, ACTs and college application deadlines, say students. Both parents and students argue that the tests are not representative of student knowledge either, as the standardized test features subjects not covered in their school’s curriculum. Economics, for instance, will be a part of the social studies test, but was never a required course at Fairview High School, one of the schools involved in the protest.
Instead of attending the tests scheduled for Thursday and Friday, many students at Fairview protested outside the school or wrote to their state legislators in the gym, where students had also set up a food drive. Preliminary data show that among nine high schools in Douglas County, south of Denver, 1,900 seniors were absent from testing. Schools in the Boulder Valley school district saw roughly 1,500 students skip the tests. At Cherry Creek High School, in suburban Denver, all but 24 of the expected 877 seniors showed up for testing, according to The Denver Post.
Schools in the state are required to give ample time for students to make up missed tests, so the actual number of high school students who refused to test will not be known until the end of the month at the earliest. Districts and schools are required to report no less than 95 percent participation in state standardized testing. If attendance drops below 95 percent, districts face lowered accreditation and could even lose their accreditation altogether, which could cost them state funding.
Many parents have refused outright to allow their children to participate, saying that the tests will not help their kids prepare for college, and that the tests do not accurately reflect curricular proficiency. Patrick Blackburn, father of a senior at James Irwin Charter High School, says that his son maintains a 3.5 GPA, but previous standardized test scores had classified him as “partially proficient.” Blackburn added that James Irwin is ranked as one of the top 10 schools in the state.
According to The Gazette, Colorado Springs’ District 11 superintendent, Nicholas Gledich, sought approval for his district to opt out of the standardized testing. He intended to replace it with a test created by the district’s educators, with its own system of accountability and performance assessments. Despite both state and federal laws against it, District 11’s school board passed a resolution requesting that state testing requirements for that district be waived. Montrose, Douglas and Dolores districts have passed similar resolutions.
The Poudre School District, which tested earlier in the week, saw some mixed results in attendance. Centennial, Fossil Ridge and Fort Collins high school students took the tests online. Principle Mark Eversole at Fort Collins High reported lower than expected attendance, while Principle Will Allen at Fossil Ridge said his school had only 30 absences and Principle Kathy Mackay at Poudre High said 82 percent of her seniors took the test. Despite the turnout at Poudre High, some of the school’s students said they staged their own form of protest by selecting the same letter throughout the multiple-choice test, instead of attempting to select the correct answer, reports the Coloradoan.
Standardized state tests in the spring saw a similar, though considerably less pronounced, dip in attendance in English, writing and math testing, with nearly 4,100 students refusing to participate. Refusals during this week alone have already surpassed the numbers from the spring and Jeff Kemp, a father of two James Irwin teens, says that parents of younger students are already writing letters of refusal for 2015 spring testing.
By Sree Aatmaa Khalsa