Spring break is right on the horizon, but before it arrives, some students have a big obstacle to overcome. Some students will take their first ever TCAP test next week.
These TCAP, or Transitional Colorado Assessment Program tests, replaced the CSAP (Colorado State Assessment Program) tests this year. These new state assessments are only temporary before the new standardized tests are introduced, but officials say it's important students and parents still take them seriously.
You wouldn't give students hints during state mandated tests.
"They get to show off all of the skills they've learned up through this point in their careers," Appleton Elementary School principal Corey Hafey said.
So posters are still covered in third grade classrooms at Appleton Elementary. These students were among the first to take the new state assessment known as the TCAP.
"It'll look like the older tests in its design, it'll be about the same length," Colorado Department of Education assistant commissioner for assessment, research and evaluation Jo O'Brien said.
But the TCAP is only replacing the CSAP for the next couple of years. Last year, Colorado changed its academic standards.
"The old state assessment, CSAP, was based on the old standards," O'Brien said.
Those standards are 16 years old. The TCAP will be in play as schools transition from the old standards in learning to the new and will combine the standards. This will allow schools time to alter their curriculums to meet the new standards that will be seen in future state assessments.
"Everyone was saying that we need time to start to teach kids to these new standards," O'Brien said.
Just because it's a transitional test doesn't mean it isn't important, however.
"This test matters as much as CSAP had mattered. The results are fair, valid and accurate," O'Brien said.
Which means students need to prepare to do their very best, and parents will play a role too.
"Give your kids a great night sleep before. When they get up in the morning, give them a great breakfast. Get them to school on time, because we don't want them to feel rushed or any anxiety," Hafey said. He also says students will also need encouragement.
"We're hoping they come with that great attitude and we know things will go well because we've prepared them well," Hafey added.
A team effort to make sure these students are at the head of the class.
Just like the CSAP, there will be blue ribbon schools based on TCAP scores. The Colorado Department of Education says everything used to indicate achievement for CSAP scores will be the same for TCAPs. The tests that will incorporate only the new standards in the future are expected to be much more dynamic.
Third graders in Mesa County started their TCAP tests last week, but third through fifth grades will continue next week. Middle and high school students will start after spring break.