Area students take aim at new tests

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Local students will begin taking new statewide assessments this month, but school administrators don’t expect the changes to have much of a perceivable effect.

The Colorado Student Assessment Program, which had been in place for 14 years, is yielding for the first time to the Transitional Student Assessment Program. The two tests are fairly similar.

“I don’t think there will be many differences at all,” said Connie Bouwman, assistant superintendent for learning services at Littleton Public Schools.

The TCAP exams are placeholders until 2014, when new state standards the Colorado Department of Education adopted in 2010 take over. All students in third through 10th grades will be tested in reading, writing and math. Fifth-, eighth- and 10th-graders will additionally be tested in science. Grades of advanced, proficient, partially proficient or unsatisfactory will be issued for each subject, along with comparison charts to show where each student stands.

“The test still provides parents with valuable information about how their child is doing and how much growth their child has made,” said Elliot Asp, assistant superintendent for performance improvement at the Cherry Creek School District. “It also provides our districts, principals and teachers with an outside, objective measure of how we’re doing in preparing students and helping them meet state standards.”

The TCAP tests are only scheduled to be administered this year and next, with a new state assessment program centered on the revised standards passed in 2010 taking over in 2014. The new standards are more rigorous and clearer than their predecessors, and require students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom, Asp said.

The testing window this year runs from February through March in both

the Littleton and Cherry Creek districts.