Assessment - FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions about State Assessments
Q: What state tests are required this year?
A: The following are yearly state required tests:
- Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) include tests in Mathematics and English Language Arts (grades 3-8), Science (grades 5, 8 & 11) and Social Studies (grades 4 & 7). Note: Social Studies will not be administered in the 2022-2023 school year.
- PSAT 9 (grade 9), PSAT 10 (grade 10), or SAT (grade 11).
- CoAlt: DLM for English Language Arts and Mathematics and Science and Social Studies - alternative assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities in grades 3-11.
- WIDA, English Language Proficiency Assessments - assessment for students identified as a Multilingual Learner, grades K-12.
For more information about state testing, visit http://www.cde.state.co.us/assessment.
Q: What are these tests intended to measure?
A: The following are the assessments required by the State of Colorado and administered by TSD, as well as their intended purposes:
- CMAS Mathematics and English Language Arts: Assessments are intended to assess the ability to communicate effectively, apply math to real-world situations, critically analyze literature and informational texts, and demonstrate problem-solving techniques. (Grades 3-8)
- CMAS Science: Tests are intended to assess mastery of skills and concepts in physical science, life science, earth systems science, and scientific investigations & the nature of science. (Grades 5, 8, 11)
- CMAS Social Studies: Tests are intended to assess mastery of skills and concepts in history, geography, economics, and civics. (Grades 4 & 7)
- PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10: Focus on concepts and skills for college and career readiness. They are designed to inform instruction and ultimately help improve student outcomes. The tests can help identify students who are falling behind, so teachers can intervene, and they can provide indicators of students’ readiness for advanced coursework and to keep them on target for college. PSAT is taken in preparation for the 11th grade college entrance exam (SAT). (Grades 9 & 10)
Please refer to CDE's PSAT/SAT Fact Sheet (English) for more information about the assessment listed above. CDE's PSAT/SAT Fact Sheet (Spanish).
- SAT: Focuses on concepts and skills for college and career readiness. They are designed to inform instruction and ultimately help improve student outcomes. The tests can help identify students who are falling behind, so teachers can intervene, and they can provide indicators of students’ readiness for advanced coursework and to keep them on target for college. (Grade 11). Please refer to CDE's PSAT/SAT Fact Sheet (English) for more information about the assessment listed above. CDE's PSAT/SAT Fact Sheet (Spanish).
- WIDA: English Language Proficiency Assessment, measures a student’s progress in acquiring academic English. This assessment is administered to all students identified as a Multilingual Learner and who are not yet fluent English speakers. (Grades K-12)
Q: When are Thompson School District students taking the test?
A: Click here to view the district’s state assessment windows. Schools set their own specific administration schedules within these windows.
Q: How will the results be used?
A: CMAS assessments are designed to be point-in-time snapshots of what students know and can do in core content areas.
- These assessments form a baseline for benchmarking student learning against state expectations, and assist teachers and administrators in knowing how individual students are progressing over time. Scores on tests contribute to a body of evidence for identifying individualized support needed for each student.
- Results are used by schools/districts to inform program, school and district improvement. Having scores for all students makes results more useful for understanding our challenging achievement gaps and monitoring system-wide progress.
- Results are also used in the federal and state accountability systems to rate schools and districts through Colorado’s School and District Performance Frameworks. Participation matters! Low participation may result in decreased ratings or the district’s accreditation status.
- The ratings issued by the state and the data collected are used by SchoolGrades.org, US News & World Report’s Best High Schools and other organizations to compare different schools in Colorado and across the country. It can impact the local and national reputation of our schools, especially with prospective parents who often utilize this information in choosing a school.
- Students now have an option to place college entrance examination test scores on their final transcripts.
Q: How do we prepare students for testing?
A: Online practice tests are available to familiarize students with the testing environment and tools. In addition to providing an opportunity to become acquainted with the kinds of questions that appear on new tests, the practice environment should help students use embedded tools such as text-to-speech.
Links to practice tests:
Q: What if I want to opt my student out of testing?
A: As stated in state law and district policy, parents may excuse their students from taking CMAS and state college preparatory and college admissions examinations. Contact your principal if you are considering excusing your student from specific state tests so that you may make an informed decision with regard to the impact non-participation may have on your school and district.
Q: Could my student's opt-out impact TSD’s accreditation at the state or federal level?
A: If a school district doesn’t meet the 95 percent participation rate requirement in two or more content areas due to students opting out from the test, the district’s plan type will be lowered one level.
What is a plan type? These are the overall ratings of a school or district. There are five ratings that a district can earn. From highest to lowest, they are: Accredited with Distinction, Accredited, Accredited with Improvement, Priority Improvement and Turnaround.
Q: How much time is spent testing?
A: The following times are allotted for each assessment (students with an accommodation may be allowed more time)
- English Language Arts (3-5th Grade) - 3, 90 minute Units
- English Language Arts (6-8th Grade) - 3, 110 minute Units
- Mathematics (3-8th Grade)- 3, 65 minute Units
- Social Studies (4th & 7th Grade) - 3, 80 minute Units
- Science (5th & 8th Grade) - 3, 80 minute Units
- Science (11th Grade) - 3, 50 minute Units
- SAT - 3 hours (2 breaks are given for a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes)
- PSAT - 2 hours and 45 minutes (2 breaks are given for a total of 3 hours)
Q: Why computer-based test administration?
A: Computer-based tests hold the potential for relatively swift delivery of student results, when compared to paper and pencil tests.
Q: Where can I find information about data privacy and security?
A: Colorado Department of Education privacy and security information is available at: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/dataprivacyandsecurity.