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Frequently Asked Questions about State Assessments

  • Participation Matters!

    Q:  What state tests are required this year?

    A: Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) include tests in Science, Social Studies, Mathematics and English Language Arts.  The PSAT and SAT, developed by the College Board, are required as well.  

    CoAlt: DLM for English Language Arts and Mathematics and Science and Social Studies  - alternative assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities 

    WIDA, English Language Proficiency Assessments - assessment for students identified as an English Learner.

    For more information about state testing, visit http://www.cde.state.co.us/assessment.


    Q: What are these tests intended to measure?

    A: The following are the assessments required by the State of Colorado and administered by TSD, as well as their intended purposes:

    • CMAS Mathematics and English Language Arts assessments are intended to assess ability to communicate effectively, apply math to real-world situations, critically analyze literature and informational texts, and demonstrate problem-solving techniques.  (Grades 3-8)
    • CMAS Science tests are intended to assess mastery of skills and concepts in physical science, life science, earth systems science, and scientific investigations & the nature of science.  (Grades 5, 8, 11)
    • CMAS Social Studies tests are intended to assess mastery of skills and concepts in history, geography, economics, and civics.  (Grades 4 & 7, only at sampled schools)
    • NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) - measures student achievement and to report change in performance over time. NAEP provides results for the nation as a whole and for the states separately. Each of these assessments/studies is based on a representative sample of the student population of the state and the nation and none are designed to produce individual district, school or student data. (Grades 4 & 8)
    • SAT focus on concepts and skills that matter for college and career readiness. They are designed to inform instruction and ultimately help improve student outcomes. The tests can help identify students who are falling behind so teachers can intervene, and they can provide indicators to students’ readiness for advanced coursework and to keep them on target for college.  (Grade 11)
    • PSAT focus on concepts and skills that matter for college and career readiness. They are designed to inform instruction and ultimately help improve student outcomes. The tests can help identify students who are falling behind so teachers can intervene, and they can provide indicators to students’ readiness for advanced coursework and to keep them on target for college.  PSAT is taken in preparation for the 11th grade college entrance exam (SAT) (grades 9 & 10)
    • WIDA - English Language Proficiency Assessment - measures a student’s progress in acquiring academic English. This assessment is administered to all students identified as an English Learner (NEP and LEP) in grades K-12.

     

    Q: When are Thompson School District Students taking the test?

    A: Click here to view the district’s state assessment windows.  Schools set their own specific administration schedules within these windows.


    Q: How will results be used?

    A: CMAS assessments are designed to be point-in-time snapshots of what students know and can do in core content areas.  

    These assessments form a baseline for benchmarking student learning against state expectations, and assist teachers and administrators in knowing how individual students are progressing over time.  Scores on tests contribute to a body of evidence for identifying individualized supports needed for each student.

    Results are used by schools/districts to inform program, school and district improvement.  Having scores for all students makes results more useful for understanding our challenging achievement gaps and monitoring system-wide progress.

    The results are also used in the state’s accountability system to rate schools and districts.  Performance on tests will count towards Colorado school and district unified improvement plan type assignments, and towards other ratings in Colorado’s new federally required rating system.  Participation matters, low participation can result in decreased ratings.

    The ratings issued by the state and the data collected are used by SchoolGrades.org, US News & World Report’s Best High Schools and other organizations to compare different schools in Colorado and across the country. It can impact the the local and national reputation of our schools, especially with prospective parents who often utilize this information in choosing a school.

    Students now have an option to place college entrance examination test scores on their final transcripts.

    Q: How do we prepare students for testing?

    A: Online practice tests are available to familiarize students with the testing environment and tools.  In addition to providing an opportunity for becoming acquainted with the kinds of questions that appear on new tests, the practice environment should help students use embedded tools such as text-to-speech.

    Links to practice tests:

     
    Q: What if I want to opt my student out of testing?  

    A: As provided in state law and district policy, parents may excuse their students from taking CMAS and state college preparatory and college admissions examinations. Contact your principal if you are considering excusing your student from specific state tests, so that you may make an informed decision with regard to the impact non-participation may have on your school and district.  

    Q: Could this impact TSD’s accreditation at the state or federal level?

    A: If a school district doesn’t meet the 95 percent participation rate requirement in two or more content areas due to students opting out from the test, the district’s plan type will be lowered one level.

    What is a plan type? These are the overall ratings of a school or district. There are five ratings for a district and from highest to lowest: they are: Accredited with Distinction, Accredited, Accredited with Improvement, Priority Improvement and Turnaround.

    Q: Why is there a deadline for March 5 for opting out?

    A: This allows schools a minimum of 2 weeks to make final arrangements for scheduling and logistics of assessment days.

    Q: How much time is spent testing?

    A: The following times are the allotted for each assessment (students with accommodations may be allowed more time)

    • English Lanuguage Arts (3-5th Grade) - 3, 90 minute Units 
    • English Lanuguage Arts (6-8th Grade) - 3, 110 minute Units 
    • Mathematics (3-8th Grade)- 3, 65 minute Units
    • Social Studies (4th & 7th Grade) - 3, 80 minute Units
    • Science (5th & 8th Grade) - 3, 80 minute Units
    • Science (11th Grade) - 3, 50 minute Units
    • SAT - 3 hours (2 breaks are given for a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes)
    • PSAT - 2 hours and 45 minutes (2 breaks are given for a total fo 3 hours)

    Q: Why computer-based test administration?

    A: Computer-based tests hold the potential for relatively swift delivery of student results, when compared to paper and pencil tests.  

    Q: Where can I find information about data privacy and security?

    A: Colorado Department of Education privacy and security information is available at: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/dataprivacyandsecurity.