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News Release - 2017 State Assessment/Growth Release

Aug. 17, 2017

2017 State Assessment Score/Growth Release

Results returned faster, participation improves across grades 

DENVER - Overall school-, district- and state-level results from the 2017 administration of statewide assessments were released today along with academic growth summary information, showing areas of improvement throughout the state and increases in participation.
Results for all 178 school districts and approximately 1,800 schools can be found on CDE’s website. To protect the privacy of students, results are not included for tests in which a school or district had fewer than 16 students who tested. In some cases, performance data were also suppressed within specific levels to protect student privacy. (For growth, results are not reported with fewer than 20 students).
Approximately 550,000 students were assessed last spring from third through 11th grade. Specifically, third- through ninth-graders took Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments in English language arts and math. Fifth-, eighth- and 11th-graders took CMAS science assessments. And fourth- and seventh-graders from sampled schools took CMAS social studies assessments.
Tenth-graders for the second year took the PSAT 10 and 11th-graders for the first time took the SAT as the state’s college entrance exam. The state tests are aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards and are the only common academic measurement for all students in Colorado.
Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes praised the hard work being done by students, teachers and administrators across Colorado but noted the achievement of historically underserved groups of students continues to lag.
“We are pleased to see performance improvements by so many students across Colorado, and we know this only comes after a lot of hard work and dedication from educators, parents and students,” Anthes said. “At the same time, our focus on our historically disadvantaged students must remain a top priority. In too many cases, those groups are not showing gains at a pace that will allow them to catch up, so CDE will increase our focus on providing support to our districts and schools to help them with this challenge in the next few years.”
Here are some highlights from the 2017 assessment results:

  • Improvement in CMAS math. Math performance at the top levels for grades 3 to 5 increased from 3.3 percentage points (grade three) to 3.8 percentage points (grade four) over two years. Grade 8 saw an increase of 2.1 percentage points. Some grades, however, showed decreases. Grade 6 saw a decrease of 0.8 percentage points while grade 7 showed a 1.6 percentage point drop.
  • Improvement on CMAS English language arts assessments. At the state level, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations (the top two levels) in English language arts saw increases from 5.8 percentage points (fifth grade) to 1.5 percentage points (sixth grade) in the two years since CMAS was first administered. However, ninth-graders had a 1 percentage point decrease with 36.2 percent meeting or exceeding expectations.
  • PSAT 10 remains steady. Colorado 10th-grade students scored an average of 478 on evidence-based reading and writing compared to the national user average of 468. In math, Colorado 10th-graders scored an average of 469 compared to the national average of 464.
  • First SAT results. Eleventh-graders who participated in Colorado’s first statewide SAT administration scored an average of 513 in evidence-based reading and writing compared to the 2018 national cohort average of 539 and scored an average of 501 on math compared to the 2018 national cohort average of 535. When comparing Colorado student scores to the national average, it is important to remember that while all of Colorado’s 10th- and 11th-graders take the PSAT and SAT, nationally that is not the case. In most states, only students intending to go to college take these assessments.
  • Achievement gaps. Performance improved in English language arts and math for many groups across many grades, but the persistent gaps between the groups did not narrow much. For example, Hispanic fifth-graders improved 4.4 percentage points over 2016’s English language arts scores to 29.4 percent meeting or exceeding expectations. Yet, the improvement wasn’t enough to narrow the gap between their white peers, who also improved by more than 5 points to 57.4 percent meeting or exceeding expectations.  Asians were the highest performers on the fifth-grade English language arts assessments, scoring 61.8 percent meeting or exceeding expectations.

 Faster turnaround
Colorado school districts received all student-level assessment data in June, which was the earliest availability of the results since the state switched to the CMAS assessments. The shortened amount of time between the end of testing and the receipt of results is consistent with the commitment to return results to schools and districts earlier by both the State Board of Education and Colorado Department of Education. Hard copies of student score reports also have been delivered to districts. Districts have been encouraged to provide these reports to parents as quickly as possible.
Participation improves
Participation in the 2017 assessments improved slightly over the previous year, growing 0.1 percentage points in the fifth grade to 94.3 percent participation to a 2.1-point improvement in the ninth grade with 76 percent participation. Nevertheless, parents and community members should continue to consider participation rates at schools and districts when reviewing test scores. With some general trends in CMAS participation (rates tend to be higher in the lower grades) there are significant differences across schools and communities.
Participation on the PSAT 10 improved with 91.9 percent of 10th-graders taking the test compared to 88.9 percent in 2016. And 93 percent of 11th-graders took the SAT.
More continuity in PSAT and SAT, test resources
Colorado high school students taking assessments this year had more continuity between the exams, with 10th-graders taking the PSAT 10 and 11th-graders taking the SAT. In the 2017-18 school year, ninth-graders will take the PSAT to further the trend. Students also had access to free resources through the Khan Academy, including a personalized SAT study plan, interactive questions, guided essay practice, a mobile app for daily practice and the ability to scan and score practice tests. All of these are optional resources that students can voluntarily choose to access.
In addition, students who took the SAT had the opportunity to participate in College Board’s free Student Search Service, which provides students with access to more than 1,700 colleges and universities and $180 million every year in scholarship funds. Students also have the option at the time of testing to send their scores to up to four colleges or universities for free.
Growth results
Today’s release also includes academic growth summary data from the 2017 CMAS assessments in English language arts and math, which provides information on student progress from year-to-year. Looking at growth results in conjunction with the achievement results provides an expanded understanding of a school or district’s performance. The Colorado Department of Education is pleased to be able to release the CMAS growth results at the same time as the achievement results so this broader understanding of performance is available.
A student’s growth percentile (ranging from 1 to 99) indicates how that student’s performance changed over time relative to students with similar score histories on state assessments. For example, a student in the 75 percentile means he or she grew as well or better than 75 percent of his or her peers. 
School and district growth rates are determined by the growth percentiles from individual students, specifically the median (or score in the middle) student growth percentile. As a point of reference, the state median growth percentile for any grade overall is about 50.
Summary growth results for schools and districts, including the growth of disaggregated groups of students, can be found here on this website. Data files with results for all districts and schools in the state are available here.
What’s Next?
Preliminary performance frameworks for schools and districts are expected to be released within the next few weeks.
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 CMAS tests
  • English language arts & math sample score reports (also available in nine other languages)
  • How to use the test results to support your student
  • Frequently asked questions