Assessment at NHS Spring 2017

NHS will administer a variety of tests in the instructional areas of English Language Arts, Math, and Science. Federal and state law also requires “assessments written in English for reading and language arts for students who have attended school in the United States for three or more consecutive school years.” The test for English proficiency is ACCESS, which tests reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

In Colorado, the adopted assessments align with the Colorado Academic Standards. “Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments are the state’s common measurement tool of student progress at the end of the school year in English Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. Designed to be administered online, the tests feature a variety of interactive questions that are engaging and aligned with the 21st century teaching and learning practices.” (

In addition, Colorado has adopted the PSAT10 and the SAT to satisfy federal (PSAT10 only) and state law (PSAT10 and SAT). Information from the CDE website states, “The PSAT and SAT focus on concepts and skills that matter most for college and career readiness. They are designed to inform instruction and ultimately help improve student outcomes. The tests can help identify students who are falling behind so teachers can intervene, and they can provide indicators to students’ readiness for AP coursework and to keep them on target for college.”

FAQ about Assessment at NHS

  1. When are the tests and how much time do they take?


Jan. 23-Feb. 3

Reading--45 minutes

Listening--40 minutes

Speaking--20-30 minutes

Writing--60 minutes

All English as a Second Language students (9-12) that have not reached proficiency levels on a previous ACCESS test


April 11

Reading--60 minutes

Writing--35 minutes

Math--70 minutes

All Grade 10 students


April 11

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing    



3 hours plus 50 minutes for essay

All Grade 11 students


April 12 and 13

English/Language Arts--3 tests of 110 minutes, 110 minutes, 90 minutes

Math--3 tests of 90 minutes each

All Grade 9 students

CMAS Science

April 18

Science--3 tests of 60 minutes each

All Grade 11 students

AP Tests

May 1-12

Dependent on Tests

Students enrolled in AP classes

IB Tests

May 1-19

Dependent on Tests

11th and 12 grade IB students

2.  Which tests are required by state and/or federal laws?


For specific laws, please see:

3.  Why are these tests important?

According to CDE website:

In 2009 Colorado implemented more rigorous academic standards to ensure that all Colorado students are prepared for college and career success. Fully implemented in the 2013-2014 school year, the Colorado Academic Standards set clear, consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level across 10 subject areas, including English language arts, math, science and social studies. Prior to the adoption of the standards, too many students in Colorado were graduating from high school without the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills needed to succeed in college and in the workforce.  

The standards-aligned assessments help educators and parents know how their students are performing and growing over time and how they compare to their peers across the district and the state. In the case of the English language arts and math tests, students and parents can also compare performance with students around the country.

CMAS tests are the only common measuring tool for students in grades 3 through 9 in Colorado. Participation is important because results help students parents, school and districts understand whether students have mastered the content they need to know by the end of the school year and are track to be ready for college or career after graduation.  

4. How is it that some students are excused from taking these tests if they are required by state and federal laws?

CDE states:  State law requires local school boards to develop a policy allowing parents to excuse their students from participating in one or more state assessments. According to the law, districts cannot impose negative consequences on students or parents if a parent excuses their student from an assessment.  

The St. Vrain Valley School Board has developed a policy (IKA and IKA-R) that addresses the state law cited above.

According to SVVSD policy IKA: A parent/guardian who wishes to exempt his or her child from a particular state assessment or assessments shall make this request in accordance with this policy’s accompanying regulation.

Steps for parents to request an exemption, SVVSD policy IKA-R states:

  1. The request for exemption must be submitted in writing to the school principal.

  2. The parent/guardian will not be required to state the reason for asking for the exemption.

  3. The request for exemption may apply to all or specific state assessments administered to the student during the school year.

  4. A request for exemption will be valid for one school year. Requests for exemption from state assessments in subsequent school years require a new written request.

  5. Parents/guardians are encouraged to submit their requests for exemption at the earliest possible date each school year so that the district may plan accordingly.

5.  Where can I find more information on the assessments to be administered?

The best source in Colorado would be the Colorado Department of Education Assessment Unit web pages. Here is the web page:


6. How do I sign up for the SAT + writing option?


Students who wish to take the essay portion with their SAT must add it to their registration on their College Board account  BEFORE February 12th.  Both the SAT and the SAT with Essay offered at Niwot High on April 11th are free of charge.

Students who do not follow this process will not be offered the essay portion of the SAT on the April 11th SAT at Niwot High.

To add the essay to your SAT for April, you will need to access your College Board account at or by calling the College Board’s Colorado help center at 866-917-9030.    If you do not have an account, you must create one on the College Board website.   Instructions can be found on this flyer provided by the Colorado Department of Education and Collegeboard.

Students with current College Board accounts may also be prompted to enter for personal demographic information. Please enter this information and continue to STEP 2 on the flyer.

Niwot High School highly recommends that all 11th graders take the essay portion of the SAT.  Most out-of-state public and all private colleges require or recommend the essay. Many scholarships, for both public and private colleges, require the SAT with the essay.

The easiest way to determine if the colleges or universities that you are interested in require the SAT with Essay is to visit their admission page.  There is also a helpful tool on this website:

Please contact your counselor if you have questions.  All questions regarding College Board accounts should be directed to College Board customer service.