Colorado Student Assessment Program, CSAP
Fact Sheet

1997 - The Colorado Student Assessment Program, CSAP, first administered to fourth graders throughout Colorado.
2000 - Senate Bill 186 instituted testing in grades 3-10. CSAP would be the measurement tool used as the indicator of student achievement and school quality
2002 - No Child Left Behind, federally mandated high-stakes testing. Schools not making 100% proficiency by 2014 are deemed to be failing.
2010 - Senate Bill 191 - CSAP will now account for half of the value in determining teacher compensation.
Although CSAP is the measurement tool for school accountability, the tool has never been independently audited or evaluated for validity and reliability.
CSAP open-ended test items are judged by temporary workers contracted through temp. agencies such as KellyServices. Temp workers often are workers unable to secure permanent employment. No credentials are required except a bachelor's degree of some kind, not necessarily in a related field. These temporary employees receive little training before going on to grade hundreds of responses during a single shift.
CSAP scores based on the subjective judgments of these graders determine of student achievement, school quality, and now under the passage of SB191, teacher compensation. Many schools have been shut down on the basis of these scores.
Highest correlation to performance on these standardized measurement tools is income. Lisa Piscopo in her Ph.D. thesis developed an equation to predict CSAP scores. Using the indicator of “number of children on free and reduced lunch”, she predicted CSAP scores in 240 DPS elementary, middle and high schools with 81% accuracy.[i]
Colorado has spent on average $50 million annually for the distribution, administration, scoring, and reporting from these measurement tools.
CSAP has not improved education in Colorado. The achievement gap has not been narrowed. Today's high-school graduates were the first group of third graders who begin the era of high-stakes testing in 2001. Half will have to take college remediation. High-school drop-out rates have been increasing since the passage of NCLB.[ii]
The number of children under the age of 18 who live below the poverty line in the United States increased by 9% between 2000 and 2006. In Colorado, the number of children living in poverty grew by 72%, the highest rate increase in the nation.[iii] Almost all of these children can be expected to perform below the pre-determined criteria, based on Dr Piscopo's findings.

[i] Lisa Piscopo, Doctoral thesis: Explaining Variability in the CSAP Scores: A Geographic Perspective, University of Denver 2005.

[ii] Colorado Department of Education,

[iii] Denver Post, December 31, 2009

Additional reading:
Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1).

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Test Scorer
Dan Di Maggio, Truthout, Wednesday 01 December 2010,

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools;
Joanne Barkan, Dissent Magazine, Winter 2011