DENVER — This week, the Colorado Department of Education released results for the Colorado Measures for Academic Success, known as "CMAS."
The state says results showed "strong participation" and improvement over 2021, but there is still "a long way to go."
Notably, participation in CMAS improved since last year, approaching levels seen in 2019 for most grade levels.
Scores improved from last year for most grades that took the math and English language arts CMAS tests.
"However, those scores declined from 2019 in almost every grade level and subject area," a Department of Education release said.
There were a few specific positives.
For example, on the third-grade English language arts CMAS test, nearly the same percentage of students met or exceeded expectations in 2022 as they did in 2019 – 40.7% in 2022, and 41.3% in 2019.
"The test itself is really an opportunity for schools to take a temperature check, if you will," said Dr. Ann Sebald, an associate professor and Co-Director of the Center for Educator Preparation at Colorado State University. "At least in particular this year, is it allows us to compare ourselves against a baseline of 2019."
Sebald has years of experience as a school teacher, and said that because of the pandemic, everyone -- teachers and students -- had a common experience.
"Everyone was trying to figure out what is learning look like now, what is teaching look like now? How do we know if what we've taught students are learning, and how do we help students communicate what they know and are able to do?" she said. "Everyone was trying to figure it out together. And so I think these new CMAS scores allow us to reflect back at pre-pandemic a baseline."
Overall, she explained that it could be used as a teaching moment.
"There's a lot of data points that go into helping to determine student learning. And so if this can be approached as just another data point, I think that can help students as well as teachers and leaders figure out, where do we go from here? What do we do moving forward?" she said.
For Colorado's largest school district, Denver Public Schools, Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero said the results were not a surprise.
"It validated what we were expecting and even what many were predicting," he said.
He said now it gives students an opportunity to grow, starting with teachers.
"In addition to the adult experience, we want to make sure that they feel supported, empowered, and they have the resources. The resources can mean that they have an incredible classroom library. They have the tools at their disposal. But let's not underestimate the importance of compensation," he said.
However, he said it also means trying to close the gap that students of color face when it comes to these tests.
"We're going to work to make sure that not only we grow, but we closed those gaps that haven't really closed in the last decade," Marrero said.
Test results, sorted by school and district, are available on the Department of Education's website.
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