32 students opt out of PARCC testing in Steamboat Springs School District | SteamboatToday.com

32 students opt out of PARCC testing in Steamboat Springs School District

— A total of 32 students from four schools in the Steamboat Springs School District have chosen to opt out of the first portion of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers exams, which began in the district Monday.

The assessments, which replace the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, are new for the state this year and satisfy federal requirements for Colorado’s waiver from No Child Left Behind.

The Colorado Department of Education has the authority to hold districts accountable if they don’t have at least 95 percent participation in the exams, but the 32 students who opted out in Steamboat represent less than 1.5 percent of the district’s total enrollment.

The 32 students include seven from Steamboat Springs High School, 10 from Steamboat Springs Middle School, nine from Soda Creek Elementary and six from Strawberry Park Elementary. Three from Strawberry Park have yet to turn in signed paperwork from parents acknowledging their refusal to test, but the parents have verbally indicated their preference to refuse the test.

An additional nine students in grades being tested at Soda Creek Elementary were absent Monday, according to Superintendent Brad Meeks.

Meeks said the number of absences at the school was not unusually high.

Strawberry Park Elementary does not begin testing until next week, and attendance numbers for Steamboat Springs Middle School and Steamboat Springs High School were not immediately available.

“It certainly appears that the majority of our students are participating,” Meeks said.

The exams and other state-mandated testing is being widely discussed in the Colorado Legislature this year, and several bills have been introduced to reduce the amount of testing for students.

In January, the Colorado State Board of Education voted to allow school districts to apply for waivers from the first part of PARCC testing. Steamboat and more than 20 other districts applied for the waivers, but the Colorado attorney general ultimately decided that the state board didn’t have the authority to grant them.

The State Board of Education approved a resolution last week supporting a parent’s right to choose if their child should participate in tests and data collection.

The same board has also passed a motion to not hold districts accountable for low participation on the tests due to parent refusals.

In addition to being a new test, the PARCC exam is being administered to students electronically. Meeks said that from a technical aspect, the technology worked well and the testing was successful Monday.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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