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The U.S. Department of Education conditionally approved Colorado’s plan for state assessment tests to proceed this spring for students in third through 11th grades, the Colorado Department of Education announced Friday.

The CDE said in a news release the federal agency granted the approval for modifications to the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments based on the “unique circumstances Colorado schools and school districts are facing as a result of the pandemic,” according to a news released from the state education department.

This plan for assessments for this year only will provide some relief for students, families, and educators after a challenging year for education amid a global pandemic.

Under the plan approved by the federal department, Colorado schools and districts will be required to administer:

  • CMAS assessments in English language arts to all students in third, fifth and seventh grades.
  • CMAS math assessments must be administered to all students in fourth, sixth and eighth grades.

The federal office did not approve the state’s request to suspend all science tests this year, so schools and districts must administer science tests to students in eighth grade.

CMAS science will not be given to students in fifth and 11th grades, as they normally would, but CDE must publicly report the SAT Analysis in Science subscore this year. Social studies tests, which are required only in state law, will not be given this year.

“This is the answer we’ve been waiting for,” said Senator Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, said in the CDE news release. “I appreciate the quick response from the federal government that will allow our schools to plan and prepare.”

Parents and caregivers who want to know how their children are progressing in both English language arts and math may have their children take both tests. School districts and schools should notify parents and caregivers about how students may take assessments in both subject areas.

“Colorado legislators and education stakeholders came up with a solid plan, based on our unique circumstances and challenges related to the pandemic, to cut back on state assessments this spring to acknowledge how schools have had to adapt during the pandemic, and I appreciate the flexibility and collaboration we have received from the U.S. Department of Education,” Colorado Department of Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said in the news release. “Now we need schools, families and students to join us in our efforts to understand how much the pandemic has impacted learning across our state by having students participate in the required CMAS tests, so we can target our federal and state resources toward students who need the most support.”

The reduced assessment requirements were requested following the approval of House Bill 21-1161,  which brought together a broad contingent of legislators, education associations, school districts, and the Colorado Department of Education to find a solution aimed to reduce testing requirements because of the global pandemic. This year has created unprecedented challenges for students and educators, and this announcement provides some relief as the 2020-21 school year comes to a close.

“In the spirit of collaboration, Colorado educators, school districts, advocacy organizations, legislators, and the department of education came together to create a solution that serves students, and provides some relief after a challenging academic year,” Governor Jared Polis said in the CDE release.

Additionally, the department is preparing a waiver request to pause federal accountability requirements for another year. The department anticipates submitting the accountability waiver in early April.

For more information about CMAS assessments this spring, visit CDE’s resources for parents.

This content was originally published here.