Background on State Assessment System Transition and Accountability

Colorado is in the process of transitioning to a new state assessment system, the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS). New state assessments in science and social studies were administered at the elementary and middle school levels during the spring of 2014; the high school versions will be administered in fall of 2014. The new CMAS assessments in mathematics and English Language Arts (developed by PARCC) will be administered in spring 2015.

As with any large scale assessment transition, actual student results must be used to establish performance level cut scores. Therefore, the first year each new test is administered, districts will not receive CMAS results immediately; rather, the release of the student assessment results will be delayed for the first year in order to conduct this standard setting process.

It should be noted that the CMAS assessments are specifically designed to measure Colorado’s new academic content standards. Therefore, performance levels for the CMAS assessments (including those developed by PARCC) will not have the same meaning as the performance levels for TCAP math, reading, writing, and science. Likewise, growth results may or may not be available for accountability, educator evaluations, improvement planning and/or reporting purposes during the first year of CMAS PARCC administration. If available, they may not be accessible until winter of 2016.

In light of the state assessment transition, during the 2014 legislative session, the state legislature passed HB 14-1182 to address the assessment transition impact on accountability for 2015. Per the new legislation, 2015 school plan type assignments and district accreditation ratings will be based on:

• 2014 school plan type assignments and district accreditation ratings1

• 2015 assessment participation rates

• Accreditation assurances

Spring 2016 Testing 

PARCC announced that PBA and EOY windows will be combined into a single window. To test as close to the end of the year as possible, Colorado's testing window for all spring 2016 CMAS and alternate assessments will be April 11th - April 29th. The three-week window will allow districts to complete testing for all CMAS and alternate testing, including science, social studies, English language arts (ELA) and math if they are able to have single groups for each CMAS session.

Colorado will be moving to a sampling approach for social studies. One-third of schools will participate next year. All social studies and science tests must be scheduled and completed between April 11th and April 29th, but districts needing more time to complete their ELA and math testing due to device numbers (i.e., the number of computers available will require multiple groups for each test unit) may begin testing those content areas earlier. The maximum test window will be six weeks. Six weeks will allow schools needing three groups per CMAS session to complete testing.

To the extent possible, a student taking the alternate assessment in a content area for which the student is participating in a general education class should be assessed at the same time as the general education peers to avoid missed instruction. Schools may also ensure the student taking the alternate assessment does not miss instruction from that general education class through other means. Please see below for the 2016 assessment calendars.

Click on the links below to find more information about assessments.

Assessment Calendars                 Colorado Department of Education
Elementary 15-16
Middle School 15-16
High School 15-16

PARCC Test Prep                            CMAS - Science and Social Studies

CoAlt: DLM                                  Access for ELLs                             

Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS)

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, instead of taking TCAP, all students will take the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS), an online test. The CMAS name encompasses the Colorado-developed science and social studies assessments as well as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)-developed, English language arts (ELA) and mathematics assessments. Colorado’s CMAS tests are designed to meet higher academic standards and to better prepare students for career and college.

  • 4th, 7th, and 12th grade students take an online social studies test.


  • 5th, 8th and 12th grade students take an online science test.


  • 3rd through 11th grade students take tests in English language arts and mathematics.

CMAS is administered in the fall for 12th-grade students and in the spring for all other grade levels.  Students are assigned a performance level of Limited Command, Moderate Command, Strong Command or Distinguished Command.

Colorado Alternate Student Assessment Program (COALT)

Alternate version of the TCAP for students with significant cognitive impairment.​ Available for grades 3-12. COALT is given in February and March.

Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State to State for English Language Learners (ACCESS for ELLs)

Colorado is a member of the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) Consortium. ACCESS for ELLs is the state required large-scale language proficiency test for K-12 students and is one component of the WIDA Consortium's comprehensive, standards-driven system designed to improve the teaching and learning of English language learners (ELLs).

The purpose of ACCESS for ELLs is to monitor student progress in English language proficiency (ELP) on an annual basis and to serve as a criterion to aid in determining when ELLs have attained language proficiency comparable to that of their English-proficient peers. This is given to all students identified as English learners (NEP and LEP) in grades K-12.

There is an alternate assessment available for students who meet qualifications for instruction using alternate standards in grades 1 - 12.

Colorado ACT (COACT)

Measures and monitors annual status and progress toward college readiness. State mandated for 11th graders. Measures each student's content area performance as well as provides a composite score for all content areas combined. The COACT is taken in April.

Measures Of Academic Progress (MAP)

Monitors student progress and on State standards throughout the school year. Data used for instructional planning and monitoring. Students in ​Grades k-10. MAP by NWEA is an adaptive computer assessment.

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS Next)

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS Next) is a set of procedures and measures for assessing the acquisition of early literacy skills. This test is required per state statute from kindergarten through third grade. This assessment is optional at grades four through sixth. The assessment is designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of early literacy and early reading skills.

DIBELS Next is comprised of seven measures to function as indicators of phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, accuracy and fluency with connected text, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. DIBELS Next is designed for use in identifying children experiencing difficulty in acquisition of basic early literacy skills in order to provide support early and prevent the occurrence of later reading difficulties. The purposes of DIBELS Next are:

  • to identify students who may be at risk for reading difficulties (universal screening);
  • to help teachers identify areas to target instructional support;
  • to monitor at-risk students while they receive additional, targeted instruction; and
  • to examine the effectiveness of your school’s system of instructional supports.

Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)

Administered during Grade 3.  The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) measures students' learned reasoning abilities in the three areas most linked to academic success in school: Verbal, Quantitative and Nonverbal. The CogAT is given in October.

TS Gold Assessment for Kindergarteners

Teaching Strategies GOLD is grounded in 38 objectives that guide teachers throughoutthe assessment cycle. They are based on research, include predictors of school success, andare aligned with the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework, CommonCore State Standards, and early learning standards for each state. The objectives are organizedinto 10 areas of development and learning, including broad developmental areas, contentareas, and English language acquisition. Many of the objectives also include dimensions thatguide teachers’ thinking about various aspects of that objective, and help clarify what theobjective addresses.


The aimsweb Tiered Assessment Framework provides web-based data management, charting, and reporting. With continuous student performance data, teachers and administrators can guide the teaching and learning process, and provide relevant reports to parents.

TIER 1: Universal Screening: Establishes benchmarks three times a year with standard universal screening probes. Reports identify students at risk, help individualize instruction, evaluate student progress, and demonstrate Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). They also serve as an accountability and communication tool for system improvement.

TIER 2: Progress Monitoring: Begin to progress monitor students at risk using monthly assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional changes and short interventions.

TIER 3: Intensive Progress Monitoring: Use it for frequent assessment and monitoring of students at risk or with severe needs. Expected rates of progress are prescribed and compared to actual progress, based on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or other goals. Reports evaluate student progress, prescribe program changes and revisions, monitor interventions, ensure IEP success and serve as an accountability and communication tool for program evaluation and reporting.

aimsweb manages, charts, and reports CBM assessment data to provide a pro-active and preventative solution to inform instruction, demonstrate improvement, and report success.

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