A group of Republicans legislators introduced a bill Thursday that would roll back many of the education reforms passed by the legislature over the last six years.
Those reforms were backed by a Democratic-Republican coalition that no longer exists, given that many of those Republicans have left the legislature.
The bill has little chance of passage in its original form, given Democratic control of the House and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s support of past reforms. But House Bill 15-1105 likely will help shape the legislative debate over academic standards, testing, student data privacy, and teacher evaluation.
The bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton and Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins. Its key provisions include:
- Repeal of current state academic standards in language arts, math and social studies.
- Creation of new Colorado-only tests in those subjects. The bill specifies that new test questions “cannot be designed to collect or measure data, including metadata, concerning students’ noncognitive, behavioral, emotional, or psychological characteristics, attributes, or skills and that the vendor cannot collect biometric data, except handwriting.”
- Development of a new standards by an advisory committee.
- Withdrawal from the multi-state PARCC testing group.
- Repeal of the requirement that all high school juniors take the ACT test.
- Grading of tests by Colorado teachers.
- A requirement that school boards adopt policies allowing parents to opt children out of tests and allowing students to take tests on paper if requested.
- A change in the teacher evaluation system that would affect the current requirement that 50 percent of evaluations be based on student academic growth. That would be reduced to 15 percent, although individual districts could use up to 50 percent if they choose.
- A ban on any agreements with vendors or the federal government that would cede state control over assessments and standards.
Everett and Marble have signed on 13 Republican cosponsors in the House and Senate. Interestingly, none of the senior Republican lawmakers on education issues have signed onto the bill, including Sens. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs and Chris Holbert of Parker, or Reps. Jim Wilson of Salida and Kevin Priola of Henderson.
A group of Republicans also introduced a bill Thursday on student data privacy. Prime sponsors of House Bill 15-1108 are Rep. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, and Sen. Laura Woods, R-Arvada. They have a dozen other GOP cosponsors in the House, but neither Priola nor Wilson are among them.
A key feature of the bill is a requirement that “prior to conducting any survey, assessment, analysis, or evaluation that would include the collection of specified personal information, a school or school district shall obtain the written consent of a minimum of 85 percent of the students’ parents or legal guardians.”
Holbert is working on a separate data bill that’s being developed from discussions between both parent activist groups and school district interests.
Two other education-related bills were introduced Thursday:
House Bill 15-1104 – The bill creates a state educator expense deduction on state income taxes. Prime sponsor: Rep. Clarice Navarro, R-Pueblo
House Bill 15-1116 – A technical bill repealing requirements that school boards adopt policies on annual school inspections. Prime sponsor: Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio