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General Assessment Information

About the Colorado State Assessment System

The Colorado State Assessment System is designed to measure Colorado student's mastery of the Colorado's academic content standards. In December of 2009 Colorado adopted revised academic content standards progressing from early school readiness to postsecondary competencies reflective of both workforce readiness and 21st century skills.

In 2012 Colorado implemented the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) to reflect changes in the state adopted academic content standards and to provide information to teachers as they began incorporating the revised content standards in their daily instruction. In 2012 Colorado became a governing member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortia which is currently developing new assessments in English language arts and mathematics for grades 3-8 and high school. The PARCC assessments are were implemented in 2014-15.

New general and alternate assessments for science and social studies were field tested in 2013 and are scheduled for implementation in 2014.

The attainment of English proficiency by English Language Learner's (ELL) is measured annually by an English Language Proficiency (ELP) assessment. In the 2012-13 school year Colorado implemented the ACCESS for ELLs ® ELP assessment developed by the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) consortium.

The College readiness assessment is designed to measure students' preparedness for postsecondary educational opportunities and is administered to 11th grade students in April and May. 

Spring 2016 Testing Windows

Printable Version (PDF)

PARCC announced that PBA and EOY windows will be combined into a single window. To test as close to the end of the year as possible, Colorado's testing window for all spring 2016 CMAS and alternate assessments will be April 11th - April 29th. The three-week window will allow districts to complete testing for all CMAS and alternate testing, including science, social studies, English language arts (ELA) and math if they are able to have single groups for each CMAS session.

Schools administering paper-based testing should complete paper-based testing during this three week window, with the exception of students taking the paper-based form as an accommodation in a school taking the online assessments. Colorado will be moving to a sampling approach for social studies. One-third of schools will participate next year. All social studies and science tests must be scheduled and completed between April 11th and April 29th, but districts needing more time to complete their ELA and math testing due to device numbers (i.e., the number of computers available will require multiple groups for each test unit) may begin testing those content areas earlier. The maximum test window will be six weeks. Six weeks will allow schools needing three groups per CMAS session to complete testing.

To the extent possible, a student taking the alternate assessment in a content area for which the student is participating in a general education class should be assessed at the same time as the general education peers to avoid missed instruction. Schools may also ensure the student taking the alternate assessment does not miss instruction from that general education class through other means. Please see below for the 2016 assessment windows.

CMAS: science (grades 5, 8 and 11), social studies (grades 4 and 7) 1, PARCC English language arts (grades 3 through 9) 2 and PARCC math (grades 3 through 9) 

CoAlt: science (grades 5, 8 and 11), social studies (grades 4 and 7) 1

CoAlt DLM:  English language arts (grades 3 through 9)  and math (grades 3 through 9) 

3 weeks (science, social studies, ELA and math)

April 11 - April 29, 2016

4 weeks (additional week for ELA and math)

April 4 - April 29, 2016

5 weeks (additional weeks for ELA and math)

March 28 - April 29, 2016 or

March 21 - March 29, 2016 and April 4 - April 29, 2016

6 weeks (additional weeks for ELA and math)

March 14 - April 29, 2016 with one week of spring break in the middle 3

Social studies assessments will be administered on a sampling basis to one-third of the schools each year.
Including Colorado Spanish Language Arts (CSLA)
CoAlt DLM system is not scheduled to open until March 16th.


Additional Assessments

ACCESS for ELLs® (K-12th grade)

January 11 - February 12, 2016

10th grade aligned to CAS and to the 11th grade college entrance exam


April 19 or April 20, 2016: District choice for initial test date 4

April 20 - 29, 2016: Make-up testing

11th grade college entrance exam (ACT)

(ACT pending contract award)

April 19, 2016: Initial testing date 4

May 3, 2016: Make-up testing

These assessments currently are going through the procurement process. Dates for the administration will be determined at the time of contract negotiation.

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