The Colorado legislative session adjourned on May 6, 2015. The 70th General Assembly considered an unprecedented number of education-related bills. At the center of debate were bills related to the amount of statewide testing for Kindergarten through 12th grade students. Constituents, including many educators from around the state, voiced their concerns about the amount of classroom time spent on testing rather than learning. At the same time, the legislature had to consider student measurement and accountability for the state.
House Bill 15-1323 (HB1323) proposed scaling back statewide testing to federally mandated minimums for English language arts, mathematics, and science. HB1323 eliminated social studies testing, which includes personal financial literacy. As a compromise, Senate Bill 15-056 (SB56) was introduced to reduce the frequency of social studies testing. The bill proposed a sampling strategy to test students in social studies once in elementary, once in middle, and once in high school on a 3-year cycle. SB56 allows the state to collect enough data to achieve statistically significant results, but only requires selected schools to participate in the test once every three years.
Our Research & Evaluation Manager, Sherri Mitchell, Ph.D., served on a Social Studies Policy Group that helped SB56 become a reality. Throughout the session, Dr. Mitchell met with legislators, community leaders, and policy advisors. She testified before the House Judiciary Committee in the final hours of the session to explain the benefits of employing a sampling strategy for statewide student assessment. As a result, SB56 received enough support to pass and was signed into law on May 20, 2015 alongside HB1323. According to Dr. Mitchell, social studies should remain a priority in the state to ensure high school students graduate feeling empowered, self-reliant, and financially literate.
For more information about HB1323 and SB56, please visit Chalkbeat Colorado: All smiles as Hick signs testing bills.