Today, the state released the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) tests. Colorado 3rd through 8th graders took these tests last spring. Performance is broken into five levels for English Language Arts and Math and four levels for Science. The levels indicate what a typical student at each level should know based on their command of grade-level content standards:
Students scoring in levels 4 and 5 are considered on track for “college and career readiness.” Students scoring in levels 1, 2 and 3 “may need additional support to be on track for college and career readiness.”
Like many things last year, significant modifications were in place. Notably, the state decreased the number of assessments students took. Grades 3, 5, 7 took the English Language Arts (ELA) assessment, while grades 4, 6, 8 took the math assessment. Only grade 8 students were required to take the science assessment this year; in “normal” years grades 5,8, and 11 take the science test.
Another very important factor is that LPS, along with districts across the state, saw a significant drop in the number of students who chose to take these assessments than in years past. In LPS, fewer students took assessments in grades 3 through 8, with the biggest decrease happening in middle school. For example, 30 percent of LPS 3rd graders did not participate this year, and 72 percent of LPS 8th graders did not participate this year. This means it is more difficult to compare 2021 assessment data to assessment data from previous years. This is true when looking at both district and school data. In some LPS grades tested, not enough students took the assessment for a score to be available to the public.
At this time, the state has not provided growth data, which is the measurement of an individual student’s achievement over time.
Additionally, schools across the state were engaged in different learning models, including in-person, hybrid, and fully remote at different times in different ways. So, while the Colorado Legislature continued to require schools to give the assessments last spring, the Colorado Department of Education has continued to pause its state accreditation system another year in light of these unique circumstances.
“We know that the 20-21 school year had many twists and turns, with remote learning, hybrid learning, and quarantines. This year’s CMAS data aligns with our own internal assessment data and confirms many of our observations. We know the past year resulted in unfinished learning for our students. While there were pockets of excellent results, overall our students did not achieve at the levels LPS is used to,” said Melissa Cooper, Assistant Superintendent of Learning Services. “We addressed this issue right away by expanding our summer offerings to students of all ages, which resulted in our largest free summer learning program ever. More than 700 students grades kindergarten through 12 participated. We have a renewed focus this year on getting to know all students by name, strength and need and moving them forward in their learning. Our teachers are excellent at this work, and we will continue to improve our teaching and learning to best serve every student.”
English Language Arts
Littleton Public Schools students performed well on the English language arts assessment. Students in grades 3, 5, and 7 took the assessment. When looking at scores that “met or exceeded expectations”:
High School Assessments
In contrast to grades 3 through 8, test taking rates for the grade 9-11 assessments were very high, with participation rates in the 80% rate and above. That is likely due to the fact that high school students may use these assessment scores to demonstrate graduation competency in English Language Arts and Math as well as submit these scores to colleges and universities.
The College Board sets benchmarks at grades 9, 10, and 11 as a predictor of success in postsecondary academics. The following percentages represent the number of LPS students who have hit the College Board’s grade level benchmarks:
9th grade PSAT
10th grade PSAT
11th grade SAT
"We are so incredibly proud of our students, teachers, and parents who navigated through a challenging 2020-2021 school year,” said Cooper. “This data, along with all other assessment data, will help guide our work moving forward.”
“We applaud the efforts of our teachers, and our students continue to demonstrate their learning despite last year’s difficulties of changing learning models due to the pandemic,” said LPS Superintendent Brian Ewert. “We are proud of the resiliency this data shows. Everyone rose to the occasion.”