Students see start of new standards, new tests in March


Education is a constantly moving target in Colorado and 2012 will see some shifting, with a new set of standardized state tests coming for some students this spring. Starting the second week of March, the Gunnison Watershed RE1J School District will be giving one or more Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) tests in reading, writing, math or science to students in third through tenth grades.



District superintendent Jon Nelson said the new TCAP tests would look a lot like the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) tests they’re replacing.
As its name implies, the TCAP will only be administered for this year and next, while school districts transition into a new set of standards and testing in 2014, which will measure students’ proficiencies against the Colorado Academic Standards adopted by the legislature two years ago.
 “There are fewer standards, but they are deeper. What was [being studied] a mile wide and an inch deep is now an inch wide and a mile deep,” Nelson says. “The test isn’t going to be much different this year. The boxes will say TCAP and operate the same as the CSAP.”

This new set of standards is designed to “provide districts with clearer and higher expectations to guide local curriculum development,” according to the Colorado Department of Education website. With the new standards, the state is also hoping to update the lessons being taught to include “workforce readiness and 21st century skills,” the website says.
According to Nelson, the district’s teachers have already made the transition to the new standards, incorporating some new information in their lessons. “Our teachers may have had to change teaching just a little bit,” he says. “But it’s not something that caused any noticeable change.”
Students will not see any real changes as a result of the new standards or the new tests, Nelson says. Most of the questions on the upcoming tests will look a lot like the last CSAP and the testing schedule won’t take any more of their classroom time, he says.
Without applying to start testing early, the district is required to begin the TCAP for third grade reading after February 27. Testing for third grade writing, fourth through tenth grade reading and writing, third through tenth grade math and third, fifth and tenth grade science will be started around
March 5. 

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