With schools being closed for much of the last year (even though they may have offered remote learning), we all know a lot of students have fallen behind academically. However, what is not clear is exactly how far behind our kids have fallen and in what areas.

The consequences of not knowing could be especially dire for the children in this generation.

We don’t know how much access to remote instruction school-aged children received during the spring and fall of 2020. There is little reason to believe that virtual learning environments were effective for primary school–aged children. The only way to know the extent of harm done to student learning from school closures is to test our students and find out.

But school boards across the state are passing resolutions, sending emails to legislators, and embarking on a path to oppose conducting the Colorado Measures of Academic Success test. This test, required by law, measures student educational growth. It’s a test that didn’t happen last year, and if school superintendents and school districts have their way, it won’t happen this year either.

COVID-19 has been a challenge for everyone; a challenge no one could have foreseen or planned for, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t gauge the damage done from what is now being called the “COVID slide.”

A recent Yale study found “pandemic-related school closures are deepening educational inequality in the United States by severely impairing the academic progress of children from low-income neighborhoods.” The study goes on further to state, “learning gaps created by the crisis will persist.”

The mission for the Colorado Department of Education is “to ensure equity and opportunity for every student, every step of the way.” Their goal is to graduate students with the knowledge, skills and experience needed to be successful. Students, and their parents, deserve to know the impacts of the past year and learn what students are lacking in their education and what instruction and guidance, they need to be successful.  And we all should know how our schools and teachers are performing — not as a punishment for an unforeseen event but as a gut check on how much ground was lost.

Not testing, not measuring a student’s academic growth and progress, and not looking after the students’ educational health is a disservice to these children and amounts to abandonment.

After all, the purpose of a public education is to enrich every child’s life and to help every child reach their full potential even if that means we must help them make up lost ground.

Barbara Kirkmeyer is a Colorado state Senator representing District 23 in Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties.