Thousands of students refuse to take state exams for 2nd straight day

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Students at Centaurus High School in Lafayette protested the new Colorado Measure of Academic Success on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014.

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DENVER —  For the second straight day thousands of Colorado students and their parents refused to take part in state mandated tests meant to gauge science and social studies skills of seniors.

The students say they are sending a message to state legislators and education officials about their frustration with standardized testing that takes time away from classroom instruction, while providing no benefit to them.

The CMAS tests attracted more protestors than participants at Boulder Valley’s Centaurus High School and Fairview High School on Thursday and Friday.

“We’re suffering from a lot of test fatigue lately with standardized tests, TCAP, CSAP, ACT, SAT … it’s a lot of tests,” said Noah Clay, a senior at Centaurus High School.

Though there weren’t protestors outside Cherry Creek High School, students weren’t inside either.

“The feeling among parents and our students was that the test didn’t have any meaning to them,” said Cherry Creek Schools spokesperson Tustin Amole.

The test does carry meaning for the state, which spends $6 million on the science and social studies tests alone. If schools don’t test at least 95% of their eligible students, the state can lower their accreditation rating. State sanctions are possible if accreditation ratings fall too low for too long.

“We will not meet that (95%) threshold at any of our schools,” Amole said.

Cherry Creek schools had just 53% of eligible students take part in CMAS across all schools on Friday. Douglas County also failed to reach 95% at any of its schools with roughly 47% of students taking part district wide. Boulder Valley had the lowest turnout, with just 20% of all eligible students participating.

“We’ll have to have a conversation about what will happen to our accreditation because we didn’t meet that standard,” Amole said.

Education Commissioner Robert Hammond appears to be willing to have that conversation, saying in a statement, “I understand the frustration.  I am fully committed to evaluating how the testing goes and working with districts and policymakers to identify ways to improve.  I know that together we will find the best pathway forward that yields the best results for students.”

Schools believe they will avoid any state sanctions by documenting all the letters they have received from parents and students refusing the tests. The state requires that schools show “good faith” when administering the tests and following the law.

Meanwhile, students are sending open letters to legislators calling for them to act on the standardized testing issue in the upcoming session.

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