K-12 Assessment Principles
It’s all about workforce development.
As a business community, our economic development plans require a strong education system to ensure our talent meets the demands of the knowledge-based economy we are working so hard to grow in Colorado. Building a homegrown, strong workforce in Colorado depends on our ability to educate our kids effectively and accurately assess our progress in doing so. Regularly assessing the performance of our educational system allows us to make adjustments to address weaknesses and celebrate and replicate strengths. Given that 74 percent of jobs will require a post-secondary degree or certificate in just five years, we simply have to continue to improve education and workforce development in Colorado. Our economic success depends on it.
The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce is supportive of the following principles related to school assessments. Assessments should:
- Hold students, teachers and schools to high standards. We must hold ourselves to the highest standards in order to compete in the global economy. We cannot continue to import talent or allow our students to fall behind the rest of the world. Assessments are a critical component in holding teachers, administrators and students accountable.
- Allow us to compare. Assessments need to align with state and national standards so that we can compare how Colorado kids are doing on a local, state, national and even international level. Our kids will be required to compete around the globe. Accordingly, we must assess them on that same level.
- Inform school choices made by parents and students. Comparative data and accurate assessments are an important tool in helping parents and students make educated choices about the school that will best prepare them for success.
- Be timely. We must assess the majority of students on an annual basis to ensure we are making real-time adjustments that are based on each student’s needs.
- Contain local input and be transparent. Standards and assessments need to have input of a diverse, local group of Colorado stakeholders including educators, parents, business leaders and community members. Parents and schools should understand how and why standards and assessments are developed.
- Be outcomes-based. We need to assess the attainment of real-life skills students need to succeed in the work place. Instead of focusing on memorization, assessments should be focused on skills like problem solving, communication and comprehension.
- Result in less remediation. Accurate assessments allow the state, schools and parents to intervene and students to get the appropriate support before remediation is necessary. This ultimately saves parents, students and schools money.
- Balance time spent learning with time spent testing. We agree with the recommendations of the 1202 commission to reduce the time spent testing students. That said, a strong set of statewide standards and assessments is critical for effectively preparing our students to compete and succeed in the job market of today and tomorrow. (Though tests are required by three levels of government–federal, state and local–the majority of test time is mandated by the local school district.)
- Allow local school districts to manage curriculum. While we support consistent and comparative assessments and high standards, we also believe curriculum to teach to those standards should continue to be a decision made by local school districts.
- Allow parents and students to decide the assessment format that works best for them. The key is accurately assessing growth, whether pencil and paper or by computer.