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Colorado Academic Standards Fact Sheets and FAQs

Fact Sheets

Frequently Asked Questions

The frequently asked questions are grouped into categories for easier navigation. This section continues to be updated. Please check back often for additional information!

Colorado Academic Standards Overview

What are educational standards?

Educational standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be on course toward college or career readiness by providing clear goals for student learning at each grade level. Standards establish what students need to learn, but they do not dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, schools and teachers decide how best to help students reach the standards. Put another way, standards are not a curriculum (lesson plans); it’s up to school districts to design curricula that aligns to the standards.

What are the Colorado Academic Standards?

The Colorado Academic Standards are the expectations of what students need to know and be able to do at the end of each grade. They also stand as the values and content organizers of what Colorado sees as the future skills and essential knowledge for our next generation to be more successful. All Colorado districts are required to adopt local standards that meet or exceed the Colorado Academic Standards. The Colorado Academic Standards are also the basis of the annual state assessment.

What content areas are included in the Colorado Academic Standards?

Colorado has academic standards in eight content areas for preschool through 12th grade:

  • Arts - Includes Drama/Theater Arts, Music, Dance, Visual Arts
  • Comprehensive Health and Physical Education
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Reading, Writing, Communicating
  • Science
  • Social Studies - Includes Personal Financial Literacy
  • World Languages

In addition, the state has developed Extended Evidence Outcomes aligned to the standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Colorado also adopted Colorado English Language Proficiency (CELP) standards to support English language learners.

What is the difference between standards and curriculum?

Standards are broad learning goals articulating what students should know, understand, and be able to do over a given time.

A curriculum is an organized plan of instruction, comprised of a sequence of instructional units, that engages students in mastering the standards. Resources such as instructional materials and textbooks support curriculum.

In Colorado, standards are developed by our state's teachers and go through a public feedback process before being approved by the State Board of Education. Curriculum decisions are left to local school districts.

When and how are the standards updated?

The State Board of Education is required by state statute to revise approximately one-third of the standards beginning in 2022 and an additional one-third every two years thereafter (22-7-1005(6) C.R.S.).

Through this updated process, the standards have been divided into three groups. Groups contain content areas that are each reviewed by a committee of education stakeholders and the public before recommended revisions are considered by the state board. One-third of the standards that were adopted in 2018 began the review and revision cycle beginning in fall of 2020.This first group consisted of social studies and the arts, which includes dance, drama and theatre arts, music, and visual arts.

Standards for the arts were approved by the state board in April 2022. School districts now have two years to transition local standards, curriculum and assessments to align to these revised standards, with full implementation expected to begin in August 2024. Presentations of the final recommendations for revisions to Colorado’s social studies standards are scheduled to continue throughout the fall of 2022. Final revisions are anticipated to be adopted by the state board by its December 2022 meeting.

For more information and to keep up with each group's timeline, visit the Colorado Academic Standards Review and Revision Process webpage.

Assessments Aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards

How do we know if students are mastering the standards?

Meaningful and relevant assessments work hand in hand with rigorous academic standards. State tests, known as the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS), measure students' mastery of the standards and the complex thinking and other critical skills students need to be successful in school and in life. The data from assessments is critical in determining if educational goals are being met and if students are on track to graduate prepared for college and career.

What tests do students take to measure their progress in mastering the Colorado Academic Standards?

CMAS is the state’s common measurement of students’ progress at the end of the school year in English language arts, math and science.

  • Students in grades three through eight take the CMAS tests in math and English language arts.
  • Students in fifth, eighth and 11th grades take the CMAS science assessment.

Visit the Assessment Fact Sheet and FAQ webpage for more information.

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