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The Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) is Colorado’s standards-based assessment designed to provide a picture of student performance to schools, districts, educators, parents and the community. The primary purpose of the assessment program is to determine the level at which Colorado students meet the Colorado Model Content Standards in the content areas assessed. The TCAP is collaboratively developed by the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado teaching community and CTB/McGraw-Hill. The data should be used to keep abreast of individual student, school, and district progress toward attaining higher student achievement levels. The fact that TCAP is based on the Colorado Model Content Standards will ensure that all districts are held to the same challenging standards that Coloradans expect for their students regardless of whether they live in urban, suburban, or rural areas.

Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) Key Points

As Colorado shifts to new academic content standards and assessments to measure them, we recognize there are questions about the transition and its roll-out. Here are some key points you may find helpful in explaining that process.


  • In December of 2009 and August of 2011, the State Board adopted the new Colorado Academic Standards.
  • The Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) was based on the old Colorado Model Content Standards, which does not reflect in any way the new standards. After 16 years, CSAP has concluded its lifecycle.
  • The Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) has been designed to support school districts as they transition to the new standards.
  • Where possible, TCAP has been designed to measure standards that are common between the old standards and new standards.
    • The TCAP frameworks clearly show the relationship between the assessment objectives and the Colorado Academic Standards.
    • The new standards, however, are often assessed at a lower level than what will be expected once the new standards are fully implemented.
  • TCAP will continue to assess the same content areas and grades as CSAP: math, reading and writing in grades three through 10. Science will be assessed in fifth, eighth and 10th grades.
  • TCAP encourages districts to move forward with implementation of the new standards, while providing time for the preparation of students for the higher expectations to come.
  • TCAP has been designed to be used for two years and by the conclusion of that time, all districts are expected to have transitioned fully to teaching the new academic standards.
  • TCAP does not assess the entire Colorado Academic Standards, nor does it assess the new standards at the same level of difficulty which will be expected once the new standards are implemented.
  • TCAP does not assess Colorado’s new personal financial literacy expectations or social studies. It does not test any content standards that have shifted grades and it will not test any new learning skills that are embedded in the new standards, such as invention and information management.
  • When the new standards are fully implemented, a new assessment designed to assess the full depth and breadth of those standards will be needed.

Administration and Procedures

  • According to state law, every Colorado student enrolled in a public school is required to take either the TCAP or CoAlt (alternate assessment) in the appropriate grade levels and content areas.
  • The cost to administer the TCAP is comparable to the cost of the CSAP.