You are here

News Release -- Scores and participation rates on 2016 English language arts and math tests released for schools and districts

Sept. 1, 2016

Scores, participation rates on 2016 English language arts and math tests released for schools and districts

DENVER – School- and district-level overall results in the statewide assessments in English language arts and math were released today, providing parents and communities with useful information about how their schools and districts are doing.

Find assessment results.

While academic improvement has occurred in some areas, two years of data from the statewide Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments that were introduced in 2015 is not enough to signify a trend, said Colorado’s interim Education Commissioner Katy Anthes.

The math and English language arts tests were given to public school students in grades three through nine in the spring of 2016. The tests are aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards and are the only common academic measurement for all students in Colorado.  However, Anthes emphasized, the tests are just one measure of a student’s achievement.

“The complete picture of a student’s academic progress comes from looking at the child’s whole school experience, and that includes test scores, classroom grades and teacher feedback,” Anthes said.

Parents and community members also should consider participation rates at schools and districts when evaluating test scores, she said. While participation was stronger at the elementary school level, some high schools reported fewer than half of their ninth-graders took the tests. This is the first year following the passage of a 2015 law that eliminated CMAS tests in math and English language arts for students in 10th and 11th grades.  Students in 10th grade now take the PSAT-10, which saw participation rates much higher than last year.

“Parents should look carefully at both the scores and the participation rates in their children’s schools, because low participation can impact how well the results represent their school as a whole,” Anthes said.

In past years, the Colorado Department of Education has released achievement and growth results at the same time, as the department believes that both are important to consider in understanding the performance of a school or district. Due to the transition to the new tests in English language arts and math, CDE is still working on finalizing the growth calculations and does not yet have those results ready. CDE expects to release growth reports by late September.

Results for all 178 school districts and approximately 1,800 schools can be found on the CDE website. To protect the privacy of students, results are not included for tests for which a school or district has 16 or fewer students who tested. In some cases, performance level data was also suppressed within specific levels to protect student privacy.

The 2016 CMAS English language arts and math tests were developed – as required by state law – in collaboration with a consortium of states known as the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC). This is the second year that Colorado has given the tests based on the Colorado Academic Standards that were created to set more rigorous, grade-level expectations to ensure that students are truly ready for college or the workplace when they graduate from high school.

State-level results for English language arts and math were released on August 11.

Additional procedures followed for paper scores

When 2015 scores were released, CDE indicated it would research the differences between paper and online scores over the coming year.  After a thorough analysis, CDE determined that students with equal achievement for some grades and in some content areas got higher scores on paper than they would have if they had taken the assessment online.  CDE applied additional linking procedures to the paper forms to increase the comparability between the forms of the assessment in 2016.

For schools and districts with paper testers, differences in their scores between 2015 and 2016 tests may be attributable, in part, to this procedural change. 

Today’s release includes 13 districts and 39 schools that had at least one grade level in which 80 percent or more students took English language arts or math tests on paper in 2015.  Those schools and districts may show a decline in scores in part due to their slightly inflated scores for 2015 paper tests.  The paper tests impacted were in third grade English language arts and math in grades seven and eight.

Parent Resources

CDE has created several resources to help parents understand their students’ scores and also has translated the material into Spanish. Those resources include:

  • Understanding score reports for English language arts and math tests
  • English language arts & math sample score reports (also available in nine other languages)
  • How to use the test results to support your student
  • What to expect for state assessments in the 2016-17 school year
  • Frequently asked questions

To access the toolkit materials for parents and families, please visit CDE’s Resources for Parents website.