Madame President, members of the Colorado Board of Education, thank you for the opportunity to have this read into the public record. My name is Frances Groff-Gonzales, and I am a high school business teacher and President of the Westminster Education Association (WEA), the exclusive bargaining unit for Westminster Public Schools educators, instructional and ESP. Having read the consensus recommendation from the COVID-19 Policy Implications Stakeholder Group, I am pleased that the group recommends suspending the science and social studies state testing this year, but this does not go far enough. Students, teachers, and all staff members of our schools have undergone tremendous disruption to the learning environment as well as incalculable stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, WEA supports the resolution signed by the Westminster Public Schools Board of Education and Superintendent on January 12, 2021 requesting the State Board of Education to suspend testing for the 2020-2021 school year.
This spring is not the time to do any standardized testing, including CMAS, ACCESS, PSAT and SAT as it will result in a loss of instructional time at a critical moment in students’ education. The mental health of students and staff is extremely tenuous due to the pandemic. State testing would exacerbate this and cause additional stress to students and teachers alike. I think of my daughter, a third-year middle school teacher, who is teaching both in person and remote. The amount of time she spends planning for both platforms is overwhelming. She works tirelessly to assess her students’ work and support them in learning the content and showing proficiency through our competency-based system. Even more importantly, the well-being of her students is paramount as she connects with them to make sure they are ok. She has shared that many of her students are being hard on themselves and need reassurance that they are learning and that they will be successful. I know she is representative of all teachers and educators in our district and across the profession.
And of course, I represent my members who work tirelessly conducting instruction both in person and online simultaneously, doing what’s best for students every day, while risking exposure to the deadly virus. Asking them to stop instruction to conduct a test that will only provide information that we know already, that the deadly pandemic has negatively impacted education, is pointless. Further, proctoring state testing effectively this year will be impossible while enforcing the safety protocols and social distancing necessary for the safety of students and staff and costly. The millions of dollars spent on standardized testing could and should be redirected to provide support for instructional and social/emotional resources for students and staff. For these reasons and many more, I implore the State Board of Education to suspend all statewide testing for the 2020-2021 school year and/or apply for the appropriate Federal waivers. Thank you for your time.
Frances Groff-Gonzales, President