By Educator Voice Fellowship Program Associate Cheri Farrior

On Wednesday, October 12, 2016, Colorado Fellow and social studies teacher Sasha Rauch-Kelly and students from her school attended the Colorado State Board of Education meeting.  This meeting was specifically focused on whether the Board of Education should seek a new assessment to replace its current PARCC assessment for the 2017-2018 academic school year.  


“Though I recognize that PARCC is an imperfect test that presents a number of challenges to school districts, teachers, and students, I believe that we are beginning to adapt to the new system and have already invested a significant amount of time and resources in developing our understanding of how this assessment can be leveraged in the best interest of students. To replace PARCC or the Colorado Academic Standards would set us back to the beginning and require schools and teachers to restart the process. This is particularly important given that Colorado requires teacher accountability that is tied to student performance on state assessments. If we continually change the form of the assessment, we cannot determine whether students are demonstrating growth or are being inhibited by the new testing format or platform.”
— Sasha Rauch-Kelly

The students that spoke and attended the Board meeting were members of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at Rauch-Kelly’s school.  AVID is designed to seek out opportunities for students and engage them with their communities through service learning.  One of Rauch-Kelly’s assistant principals, Mindy Simons, who is also a Colorado Educator Voice Fellow, attended last month’s meeting to testify and suggested that this would be a great opportunity to engage students in decisions that would impact them long term.

Rauch-Kelly and the students’ testimonies at this meeting were influential in the Board’s decision.  Following their public comments, the Board voted and the ultimate decision was to keep PARCC for the next two academic years.  One of Rauch Kelly’s students was quoted in this Chalkbeat article regarding the Board’s decision.

Sasha Rauch-Kelly is a CLDE Department Chair and Social Studies teacher at Harrison High School in Colorado Springs, Colarado.