“CSAPs aren’t meaningful to students”

Dwight Jones, Colorado Commissioner of Education, shared an anecdote at the CASB conference.

A tenth grade student told the commissioner that he and his classmates don’t consider the CSAP tests relevant. (I hear that from parents of high school students and principals, too.) The student explained to the commissioner that CSAP scores were low, in part, because no one took the tests seriously. Commissioner Jones quoted the student as saying, “When we take the ACT tests you can bet we’ll be engaged,” because the ACTs affect where students go to college.

There’s the rub. The standardized tests required by the state of Colorado are not a tool for learning. Nor are they a gateway to anything in students’ future. Our CSAP tests are primarily an assessment of buildings. They provide principals and teachers with some useful data to guide instruction (especially in the early grades). But, they are or no value to parents and students as a learning tool. They can’t be. All we receive are aggregate scores six months after the fact.

Standardized tests that fail to serve any meaningful purpose for students and families are flawed. We are investing significant time, money, energy and emotions in the CSAPs. Yet, the tests fail the most basic test of usefulness. I’m in favor of assessments. But, we need assessments that matter to our students (and their families) not to legislators in Denver and Washington, DC. After all, accountability begins with relevance.



2 Responses to ““CSAPs aren’t meaningful to students””

  1. Brad Jolly Says:

    It is entirely within the district’s power to make CSAPs meaningful to students.
    The kids know that all that is meaningful in terms of promotion is merely surviving another trip around the sun.
    As long as the kids know that the grown-ups don’t take accountability seriously, they won’t take it seriously, either.

  2. John Creighton Says:


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