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- Instructional Priorities of the Colorado Academic Standards (PDF)
The Colorado Academic Standards reflect why we teach and can support, validate and/or transform our collective efforts to create the education we want for all students.
- Transitioning to 21st century standards and assessments (PDF)
Fact sheet about transitioning to 21st century standards and assessments.
The frequently asked questions are grouped into categories for easier navigation. This section continues to be updated. Please check back often for additional information!
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 10 content areas for preschool through 12th grade: music; visual arts; drama and theatre arts; dance; comprehensive health; physical education; mathematics; reading, writing, and communicating; science; social studies; and 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 support is available for teachers/districts as they implement the standards?
More than 700 curriculum samples based on the Colorado Academic Standards and developed by Colorado educators are available here. Using a Colorado-designed and refined template, the samples provide organizing structures for addressing the grade-level expectations, evidence outcomes and 21st Century Skills that build students' mastery of the standards at each grade level. As voluntary resources for districts, the samples:
- Represent the translation of the Colorado Academic Standards into unit overviews for all 10 content areas, grades k-12
- Illuminate possibilities for sequencing grade-level and content-specific standards across courses/years
- Offer one possible foundation for exploring standards-based unit and lesson-plan development
The samples, the blank template upon which they are based, and a template with definitions were created by and for Colorado educators as a way to understand and translate the state standards into curriculum. Districts can utilize the samples and blank template as starting points for the creation of their own curricula, as examples to build upon and augment, as crosswalk documents for curricular comparisons, and other purposeful and individualized uses. Users of the samples should feel free to copy, distribute and transmit the samples and to adapt them to fit their needs.
In addition, for each of the content areas, the Standards and Instructional Support website offers content-specific information on free resources that can support the implementation of the standards. The website also provides up-to-date information on some significant instructional resources (and means of accessing additional resources) for the successful implementation of the state standards (mathematics and reading, writing, and communicating) fully included in 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?
- The Colorado Measures of Academic Success test in science is given to students in grades 5, 8 and 11 each year.
- The CMAS test in social studies is given on a sampling basis in grades 4 and 7, with schools participating once every three years.
- CMAS tests in English language arts and math are given to students in grades 3 through 9 each year.
- For more information, visit our Assessment FAQ page.