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Colorado governor, legislature to decide on standardized testing during coronavirus

Jesse Paul and Erica Breunlin
The Colorado Sun

The question of whether Colorado should press forward with standardized testing for elementary and middle school students in 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic is gearing up to be one of the biggest education battles at the statehouse this year.

The debate is also serving as a proxy war for the longtime fight over the effectiveness of the assessments, even though if the tests are conducted this spring they would not be used to evaluate teacher performance, which is normally the main sticking point.

On one side are opponents of the testing, including the Colorado Education Association, who say it’s not possible to conduct assessments the right way given that students are in and out of in-person classes and under a great deal of stress because of COVID-19. Inaccurate results could lead to misplaced solutions.

On the other side are groups who appear to have the support of Gov. Jared Polis and say without testing there will be no way to determine how far behind Colorado students have fallen and which districts need the most financial help to address those deficiencies. 

“I think it’s probably the most contentious (issue) just because you have some legitimate arguments on both sides,” said Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, an Arvada Democrat and former teacher who is pushing for the tests to be called off in 2021.

This story is being published partially online and in full in select print editions through an agreement with the Colorado Sun. Read the full story online at coloradosun.com.