The questions below were directed to Joyce Zurkowski, Unit Supervisor of Assessments at the Colorado Department of Education, for the purpose of better understanding PARCC and CMAS, the Colorado State standardized high-stakes tests. My original questions appear in red. Ms. Zurkowski’s responses appear in blue italics. I have included additional commentary is shown below Ms. Zurkowski’s responses.


Dear Ms. Zurkowski,

As you may know, I have been working to advise parents on their rights to refuse state standardized tests since I first administered the CSAP test to my fourth grade class in 1997. Given that socio-economic status is the number one correlating factor to test performance, any accountability tied to test scores further institutionalizes inequities in our education system and narrows both curriculum and opportunities for students.

I understand this year there will be some changes to statewide assessments and I would like to be sure the information I share with others is accurate and verifiable. If you could please answer the questions below in a timely fashion, I would appreciate it. Please be advised the responses to these questions will be shared publicly.



Special note:

I want to thank Joyce Zurkowski for answering my detailed list of questions. It is important to recognize that she is the messenger and not the decider. Education is very dynamic with hundreds of new policies introduced and adopted every year. There is often a great deal of confusion for teachers, students and parents around federal and state mandates as well as district policies. The information shared by school officials can sometimes be outdated or conflicting. I hope this helps to shed some light on the complexities around testing and promote clearer and more transparent policies that ultimately benefit the learners.


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Angela Engel