- Associated Press - Friday, January 9, 2015

DENVER (AP) - The Colorado State Board of Education wants school districts to be able to opt out of part of a new round of statewide standardized tests. But it’s not clear it has the legal authority to allow that to happen.

The board voted 4-3 Thursday to back a resolution allowing school districts to seek waivers from participating in the first part of new Partnership for Assessments of Readiness in College and Careers, or PARCC, tests in English and math in March. Students in grades 3 to 11 are set to take them.

A representative from Attorney General John Suthers’ office told the board it likely wouldn’t have legal standing. In a statement after the vote at the board’s first meeting of the year in Denver, the education department said it is consulting with Suthers’ office about the measure.

The measure was proposed by new Republican board member Steve Durham of Colorado Springs, who said the two phases of PARCC testing seemed redundant. New Democratic board member Valentina Flores of Denver joined Durham and Republicans Debora Scheffel of Parker and Pam Mazanec of Larkspur in voting for the measure. Board chairwoman Marcia Neal, a Republican from Grand Junction, voted against it along with Democrats Jane Goff of Arvada and Angelika Schroeder of Boulder.

Neal told The Daily Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1tRgg32 ) that current legislation does not allow the board or the department to issue waivers for PARCC testing. “We have no authority to do this,” said Neal, a Republican from Grand Junction.

The vote comes after many high school seniors refused to take other standardized tests in November, saying they were a waste of time and money as they prepared college applications, and after at least two school districts - D-11 in Colorado Springs and Montrose - have asked for permission to opt out of state tests.

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