CPS is in a dispute with the testing company, ACT, over what officials say were compromised EXPLORE and PLAN tests from last year. As a result, the district wants to modify the school rating policy that takes into account those assessments — and make a slight tweak to teacher evaluations.
Parent activists want the state’s education board to change its tone on the opt-out movement. While official data has not been released, self-reported data from CPS principals indicate that 9,600 students refused to take the PARCC this spring.
District officials have been meeting with community groups to discuss two proposals: One would completely eliminate retention, the second would severely limit its use. Either change would mean a complete overhaul of a CPS policy that gained national attention nearly two decades ago.
The PARCC is designed to tell all of us–schools, principals, teachers, parents and students–what we know and don’t know about whether students are learning, what we are doing well and what we need help with. That’s a good thing, right? So what’s all the fuss about?
As Illinois rolls out the new PARCC exam and anti-testing advocates push the opt-out movement, a survey of teachers in three states finds that they believe the PARCC is much better than previous state tests. They also want more training on the exam.
Anxiety and skepticism over whether all CPS schools will administer the new state-mandated PARCC test reached new heights this week as principals and teachers reported the delivery of boxes of tests to their buildings. “I’m trying to diffuse that [anxiety],” said Heather Yutzy, principal at Belding Elementary in Irving Park. “We had an LSC meeting, and the Pearson boxes had arrived an hour before the meeting. I had to tell them I still don’t know whether we’re going to give the test.”
The boxes of paper assessments were sent directly from Pearson, which may explain why CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said the district had not sent out any tests. On Friday afternoon, McCaffrey explained that the state sent tests to all elementary schools, though the district still plans to administer the assessment at just 66 yet-to-be-chosen schools.
Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent a letter to parents on Wednesday telling them why they should not have their child opt-out of the ISAT and the NWEA/MAP tests, the second time in less than two months she has issued such a letter.
On the National Day Against Testing, the Chicago Teachers Union called on parents to “opt out” of standardized testing. At a press conference on Thursday, the union announced the launch of the “Let Us Teach” campaign, to not only urge parents to refuse to let their children take part in tests but also to call on CPS to stop giving any standardized exams to children in kindergarten through 2nd grade.