It pretty much takes a cheat sheet to keep track of all the standardized tests students take these days, the acronyms used to represent them, and what the acronyms stand for.
"We are almost done with CMAS testing, science and social studies, for seniors," assessment and curriculum director Kathy Pokorney told the Ignacio School Board on Nov. 6. That's Colorado Measures of Academic Success.
She was asked if that replaced the PARCC test. "This is in addition to PARCC," she told the board, explaining, "Science and social studies for seniors in the fall. The performance-based part of PARCC is in March and April, language arts and math for grades 3-11. Then CMAS again for grades 4, 7, 5 and 8. Then the end-of-year PARCC which is 3rd through 11th grade for math and language arts."
Board president Toby Roderick asked sarcastically, "So when will we get instruction time in between?"
Pokorney clarified to the Times that CMAS replaced TCAP, the state mandated assessment taken in the spring to rate school district performance.
The PARCC test is part of CMAS, she said. PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is a national test that reflects Common Core standards. So does the CMAS, Pokorney said, but it was developed in Colorado.
PARCC focusses on math and language arts, as does Common Core. It has two sections - the performance-based test in the spring where students solve problems, and an end-of-year assessment, Pokorney said.
The spring test must be given between March 9 and April 3, 2015. The end-of-year test must be given between April 27 and May 22.
"In between there, we have the CMAS, social studies for grades 4 and 7, and science for grades 5 and 8." That must be given between April 13 and May 1, Pokorney said.
"And before all this, the ELL (English language learners) kids have to take an assessment in January and February. That's reading, writing, speaking, and listening. And then the Colorado ACT is April 28."
Pokorney cited a study that said kids get less actual testing time now. "They are shorter, but there are more of them," she said of the tests. "We'll do this major test and kids will think they're done, and then there will be another one. The kids are hanging in there. They like testing much better on computer" instead of paper and pencil.
"I don't think there will be any (tests with paper and pencil) after this year unless you have a disability," she said.
Referring to TCAP scores from last spring (now replaced by CMAS/ PARCC), Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto said, "We filed for reconsideration (of district school ratings) with the deputy commissioner (of education), and we didn't get anywhere. We were told everything is based on TCAP test scores no matter the STAR scores."
Pokorney added, "They said the only way that would make any difference is if you are right on the cusp (between two rating levels) as a district. The mid school had pretty good test scores."
She told the Times that Ignacio was given a "priority improvement" rating. The appeal of that was denied. "Even though we've made a lot of really positive changes and are working hard, it's not reflected in our (TCAP) test scores. We definitely show progress and growth with our STAR testing, but the state department (of education) doesn't consider that in a fashion to override state data in the grades that have that test."
The district administers the STAR test several times a year as a way to guide instruction, Pokorney said. "We are showing really positive good results, but we're still not making it on the state testing."
The district has struggled for years with its results on state assessment tests.
Roderick said he intends to go to the state legislature in the spring to sit in on education committee meetings. He invited staff members to provide letters with their concerns that he can pass on to legislators.
"I'm at a point with our legislature that something needs to happen," he said. "If it takes me going there once a month, I'll do that."
Roderick wanted it noted for the record, "The legislature doesn't care about rural Colorado."
Pokorney commented, "They are forming a committee. I'd like to be on there, but I'm too busy with testing. ... I don't think students or teachers are against testing, but it's the amount of it and the ramifications."
She clarified to the Times, "There's a legislative committee, a task force to review all the testing and progress. They're soliciting for people from all around. I'd love to do it, but when? It's not like (students) just walk in and take the test. You have to train all the teachers, make sure the technology works. I'm responsible for the STAR testing, CMAS, ELL, so there's no time for me to be gone."
Also on Nov. 6, Superintendent Fuschetto reported that district enrollment this year is 848 students according to the official October count day, up from 817 last year.