DENVER — Thousands of Denver-area high school seniors are refusing to take new state standardized tests, saying they’re a distraction as they work to get into college and a waste of time and money.

Colorado required seniors to take standardized science and social studies tests for the first time this year, and most were scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

A majority of seniors in the Boulder Valley School District skipped the tests, with some students protesting, collecting food and school supplies for low-income families and writing letters to state lawmakers instead.

A significant number of seniors at several suburban Denver districts also refused to take the Colorado Measure of Academic Success or CMAS tests, The Denver Post reported.

The protests come amid growing criticism over the time devoted to standardized testing and weeks after another student protest in the Jefferson County School District near Denver over proposed changes in an Advanced Placement U.S. history course.

Jonathan Snedeker, a student at Fairview High School in Boulder who participated in the protest, told The Associated Press on Friday that the test gauges how well students understand topics that they learned as far back as middle school as well as some subjects most never studied, such as economics. He said it does not make sense to have seniors take such a test as they finish up college applications and prepare for the SAT or ACT. Saturday is the deadline for many college applications.

“This really is crunch time for us seniors,” said Snedeker, who was able to get an excused absence from school with the support of his parents.

There’s no punishment for students who do not take the tests, but schools with low participation rates could face sanctions.

Colorado education commissioner Robert Hammond said he understands students’ frustrations. “I am fully committed to evaluating how the testing goes and working with districts and policymakers to identify ways to improve,” he said in a statement.