Colorado to exempt some new migrant students from state tests this year

Several students who are recent arrivals in the U.S. and have joined Colorado schools post the official October headcount will be exempt from taking standardized tests this upcoming spring.

This recent exemption guidance has been issued by the Colorado Department of Education.

The department decided to modify the guidelines due to a surge in the number of new students from other countries in various school districts. Educators have highlighted the difficulties in teaching immigrant students, especially in standardized tests conducted in English. By February, the Denver, Aurora, Cherry Creek, Greeley, Adams 12, Jeffco, and Mapleton districts reported enrolling over 5,600 new immigrant students post the October headcount.

Officials from Denver Public Schools informed their board that a majority of the students new to the country will fall under the exempt category from testing.

Students in Colorado who are identified as new immigrants with limited or no English proficiency are generally excused from taking English reading and writing tests for their first year in school. Previously, they were still required to take math and science tests with certain accommodations.

This spring, students who are new immigrants, lack English fluency, enrolled after the October headcount, and had disrupted schooling before arriving can also opt out of math and science tests.

Disrupted schooling criteria cover situations where students have not attended school for six consecutive months before enrollment in Colorado or have missed two or more years of schooling compared to their U.S counterparts. Students who faced limited educational opportunities due to reasons such as conflict, civil unrest, or geographical barriers may also qualify.

For students with an uninterrupted schooling background, they are still expected to participate in math and science tests, although their scores will not be reflected in school accountability ratings.

The Colorado assessment program includes tests for students between third and 11th grades. CMAS administers English and math tests for third to eighth graders, while science assessments are conducted for fifth, eighth, and 11th graders. High school students sit for the PSAT in ninth and tenth grades and the SAT in 11th grade.

Families always have the option to exclude their children from taking tests.

The spring testing period in Colorado is scheduled to commence on April 8, following most districts’ return from spring break.

Reporter Ann Schimke contributed to this report.

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