At Fairview High School in Boulder, taking time to learn about speed and direction in science class has students thinking more about the lesson and less about standardized testing.
“By the time kids were getting to high school, it was just test fatigue," Principal Don Stensrud said. “Students and the parents said 'Why are we doing this? It’s not really related to curriculum. It’s not related to advancing them beyond their high school years.'”
It's fatigue Stensrud feels isn’t necessary when it comes to the state’s Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers -- a standardized test to measure academic success.
"The PARCC just didn’t align real well with what our curriculum was," Stensrud said. "I’m not sure one moment in time or one battery of tests really shows what a student can and cannot do.”
His school was one of the first in Colorado to protest the amount of testing. Many students opted out of the exams, and teachers argued it took time away from teaching the school’s curriculum.
“It shows that students using the correct measures can make a difference,” Stensrud said.
Last week, the Colorado State School Board members announced they would support House Bill 1181. HB 1181 would change the PARCC assessment test for freshmen next year to be more in line with the PSAT and SAT that sophomores and juniors have been taking since 2016.
“It’s actually a good thing,” Metro State University Dean of School of Education Dr. Elizabeth Hinde said.
“Students were being tested for things they haven’t been taught," Hinde said. "It’s frustrating for students and that’s frustrating for teachers.”
Supporters of the change believe it will increase student participation in assessing student growth from year to year and better prepare them for college.
“The most important thing is are the tests actually teaching what the community and what the public want our students to learn,” Hinde said.
It isn’t clear yet is exactly what if any standardized tests freshmen will take next year, or whether they’ll just concentrate on preparing for the college entrance tests they’ll take in their sophomore and junior years.
The Colorado Department of Education says if the bill passes, the change would not happen until the spring of 2018 for high school freshmen.
They say the state mandated PARCC is still being used for third to eighth grade students.