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Academic testing in Colorado schools has been put on pause for the rest of the school year, the Colorado Department of Education announced Tuesday in a press release.

Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said administration of end-of-the-year assessments, including the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS), will be paused for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to extensive school closures throughout Colorado to prevent spread of COVID-19.

“With the extraordinary actions we are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s clear that we need to press pause on our CMAS tests this year,” Anthes said.

“Students and educators need to feel a sense of stability and normalcy before state tests can be administered and produce valid results. This also means we plan to pause our school and district state accountability system as it relates to state assessments for a year,” she said.

Colorado Department of Education is working with The College Board, which administers the PSAT and SAT tests, to generate possible solutions for administration of those tests, which are often used for scholarships and college entrance.

Additional information will come from the department as it becomes available.

The state Education Department intends to engage with the U.S. Department of Education to address implications, including those related to federal accountability, and will complete waiver documentation as necessary, Anthes said.

“I’m a big fan of accountability and transparency in public education, but we will simply have to forgo incredibly useful data on student achievement for a year to help contain the virus,” Gov. Jared Polis said.

“Right now, students, families and educators need to be focused on doing everything they can to keep families safe and stable.

“It is clear that COVID-19 will put extraordinary stress on our education system for the coming weeks and months.

“In order to ensure our schools and educators are able to spend as much time as possible on online instruction in a difficult situation, I support the decision to pause assessments and school accountability for this year only,” Polis said.

Making the decision to pause testing now allows schools and districts to concentrate on determining ways to deliver continued instruction to the extent they are able during this unprecedented disruption in education, Anthes said.

The department will continue working with schools and districts that are already identified for improvement to help support instruction, including options for instruction during and after school closures.

Salida School District Superintendent David Blackburn said the decision means the department realizes contact minutes are more important than testing. Schools will be able to focus on learning rather than tests when classes resume.

He said schools can’t successfully manage testing in the time left in the school year, but he hopes to administer PSAT and SAT so students have those scores for scholarship and college admissions purposes on time.

To help students keep their college readiness skills sharp when many schools are closed, College Board and Khan Academy will continue to provide free resources online, including full-length practice tests and personalized learning tools at khanacademy.org/sat.

The Advanced Placement exam administration, also administered by The College Board, remains as scheduled for schools that will be open on May 4-8 and 11-15, with late testing scheduled for May 20-22.

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