The large-scale debut of new online state tests at one of Colorado’s largest school districts was marked Monday by technical problems and a large number of students who chose not to take them.
At the same time, Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia defended the tests, and one Colorado college announced it would be the first in the country to use them in helping place students in college courses.
The Cherry Creek School District reported students experienced problems logging in to math and English PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, tests.
Spokeswoman Tustin Amole said the district worked with the state officials and testing vendor Pearson to resolve the glitches and all students were able to finish.
The problem has yet to be pinpointed, but may have involved too many people on the system at once, she said.
Amole said the district does not think the issue was its bandwith or computers. Voters in the suburban district approved a budget override to buy 26,000 Google Chromebook laptops for students, including for testing.
The Colorado Department of Education has reported “isolated issues” in the PARCC rollout, but has said the testing technology is meeting demands overall. The Aurora and Sheridan districts also have experienced technical problems.
In a statement Monday, Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia backed the tests and addressed the move in some areas to hold students out of them.
“With full participation, we can ensure that every student gets a great education,” he said. “We can ensure teachers and other educators get the credit they deserve for their incredible efforts.”
Early reports show large numbers of test opt-outs in Boulder high schools. Nearly 1 in 4 high school students due to be tested in the Cherry Creek district refused PARCC, with Cherry Creek High accounting for nearly 70 percent of the refusals, the district said.
State officials also announced that Adams State University in Alamosa has committed to using high school PARCC scores for placement into college courses. In Greeley, Aims Community College will collect PARCC scores to assess the test’s validity in predicting student readiness for college-level coursework.
The moves, starting in 2016, are a step toward giving students a reason to care more about the tests. State officials say students will save money on remediation courses as a result.