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.
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.
In 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, a sweeping bipartisan reform bill imposing major testing, accountability, teacher quality and school choice requirements on the states. The law was to be reauthorized in 2007, but it got bogged down. Now, eight years later, there are signs that reauthorization and some major changes are in the works.
I did not enter the profession of education to inspire my students to be great test-takers. I hope no teacher did. Instead of letting our students be guinea pigs for testing companies, I hope we as a profession are driven to create the opportunities that change our student’s hearts and minds for the overall betterment of society.
“We should definitely pilot the PARCC,” teacher Kathleen Kerivan went on to say. “Taking the test is an experience to gain clarity and confidence for both students and teachers. And if it is not punitive during the pilot year, why wouldn’t we give it a try?”
As Phillips High School’s football team recently made its way to the state championship game, media accounts went beyond celebrating the accomplishment in sports: The all-black, all low-income school was lauded for earning the district’s highest academic rating last year.
Today’s long-delayed release of the latest ratings offer a sobering picture: Phillips is the only school to fall from the top rating last year to the bottom this year