Thank you everyone who came out to join Representatives Lee, Exum, and me for the town hall. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss plans for the 2017 Colorado General Assembly, and to hear your thoughts and suggestions for the next year.
I am proud to have been chosen as the Colorado State Senate Minority Whip for the Seventy-First General Assembly.
I look forward to representing all of you in the State Senate, and fighting for the Democratic principles and ideals that we all cherish.
What a fantastic turnout for my town hall with State Representative Pete Lee! We were able to discuss the bills we’re working on this session, as well as what is going on this year at the Capitol, and Chris Stiffler from the Colorado Fiscal Institute gave a great presentation on the budget, TABOR, and the Hospital Provider Fee.
CO SPRINGS — Senator Michael Merrifield and Representative Pete Lee will host a town hall in Colorado Springs this weekend to provide an update on what actions the legislature took during the 2015 session, and to share ideas on how they can best represent their areas in the 2016 session:
Sen. Merrifield + Rep. Lee Town Hall
July 18, 2015
10:00AM – 11:30AM
Penrose Library, Carnegie Room
20 N. Cascade Ave. Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Senator Merrifield hosts regular town halls as a way to update constituents on the work of the legislature, as well as hear their thoughts about how to move Colorado forward. All town halls are nonpartisan, open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to ask questions, make comments, and engage in a robust dialogue with their elected officials.
ABOUT SEN. MERRIFIELD: Senator Merrifield is a retired teacher, former state representative, entrepreneur, and bicyclist. He serves on the Senate Education Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Merrifield began his first term in the Colorado State Senate in 2015.
DENVER — Protests over standardized testing in K-12 education have led to calls for change in the system, but some of the proposals to date have been too extreme for the mainstream. This evening, the Senate approved a balanced, bipartisan, and comprehensive fix through the Educational Standards and Assessments and Flexibility Pilot Program (SB 15-257).
The bill, as approved today, is the product of the original version, a number of substantial amendments, and a lengthy hearing in the Senate Education Committee. The bill that reduces the quantity of testing, enhances fairness for all involved, and increases involvement in the process, includes:
- English Language Arts and Mathematics state testing being administered yearly from grades 3-8, and only once in grades 10-12 with the local education provider (LEP) selecting the single high school year of testing.
- Science statewide testing only occurring once in elementary school and once in middle school, with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) selecting the year. There would be one test in high school, with the local education provider selecting the year that test is administered.
- Reducing some required early education literacy testing. If a student is reading at grade level at the start of a school year, the student is not required to take additional tests, as current policy dictates.
- Allowing local education providers to design and implement alternative accountability and testing systems, in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education, and in compliance with federal law or a waiver.
- Moving the deadline forward for the State Board of Education to review and revise the state’s academic standards, from 2018 to 2016.
- Allowing computerized tests to be completed using pencil and paper. Also, the bill allows the state to administer tests in languages other than English, if the student has not participated in an English language proficiency program for more than three years.
- Parents having access to the testing schedule – including the specific hours of the day that testing will take place – and whether each test is required under federal or state law.
“Testing is important, and we need it to understand the effectiveness of our schools, but we are over-testing our kids and not focusing on learning,” said Sen. Michael Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, sponsor of SB 15-257. “This bill reduces the overwhelming amount of time we spend on testing, which is what teachers, students, and parents of all stripes are telling us they want. We heard their concern, and I am pleased that we came to strong bipartisan agreement in passing this piece of legislation.”
The bill passed the Senate this evening on a second reading voice vote, and could go to a third and final reading as soon as this week. If it passes third reading, it would go to the House of Representatives for its first committee hearing.
-Jessica Bralish, Communications Director