Colorado bipartisan effort works to ease reading test burden for young English language learners

DENVER, CO – MARCH 3: Justin Machado, 9, reads on his iPad during his 3rd grade class at Ashley Elementary school in Denver, Colorado on March 3, 2015. This day the kids had been working on infrastructure trials on their iPads before their PARCC exams that allowed them to learn how to login and find technical issues before actually taking the test next week. Colorado’s adoption of tougher academic standards – and tests meant to measure students’ mastery of them such as PARCC – have changed how teachers teach and students learn.
The standards were adopted in 2009, and districts and schools have been phasing them in. This school year marks the second year they are supposed to be seamlessly put in place and the first year of the tests. In general, the standards are more demanding and are meant to underscore critical thinking and reasoning, instead of memorizing facts. Most of the focus has been in math and English language arts, also known as the Common Core standards. (Photo By Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

By Nicholas Garcia

Colorado lawmakers from both political parties are seeking to undo a controversial State Board of Education decision that called for schools to test thousands of Colorado’s youngest students in English — a language they are still learning.

House Bill 1160 cleared its first legislative hurdle Monday with unanimous support from the House Education Committee.

The bill would allow school districts to decide whether to use tests in English or Spanish to gauge whether students in kindergarten through third grade enrolled in dual-language or bilingual programs have reading deficiencies.

The bill is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Reps. Millie Hamner, a Frisco Democrat, and Jim Wilson, a Salida Republican.

If the bill becomes law, it would overrule a decision by the State Board of Education last year that required testing such students at least once in English. That meant some schools would need to test students twice if they wanted to gauge reading skills in a student’s native language.

The bill is the latest political twist in a years-long effort to apply the READ Act in Colorado schools that serve a growing number of native Spanish-speakers.

Republished from The Denver Post.

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