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March 9, 2014

CEPEDA: Chicago at war over testing

(Continued)

Lastly, schools generally do use the results of these tests to improve the curriculum, and some tests even help troubleshoot individual students’ learning gaps.

But though I believe standardized testing is essential, school districts across the country are doing a terrible job of being responsive to parents who disagree. That’s a tremendous problem because schools need parents to feel heard and respected to ensure academic success.

In Chicago, the Illinois Standard Achievement Test is being phased out and does not count toward grades, graduation or college admission.

Those opposing too much testing asked parents and kids to skip it to send a message, and a few teachers decided to refuse to proctor it. The administrators at CPS responded by going to war.

The superintendent threatened instructors with having their teaching licenses revoked if they didn’t proctor the tests. But once the students opted out on test day, they were treated shabbily, according to news reports and press releases from groups associated with the Chicago Teachers Union.

“The school administrations were completely unprepared for the number of students who opted out, and while some responded humanely, others did not,” Julie Fain, an organizer with an parent group against overtesting, “More Than a Score,” said in an interview. “Parents have told us that not only were they confronted angrily or harassed by school administrators about their choice, they’ve been lied to and their kids retaliated against in school.”

The union and “More Than a Score” have alleged that some administrators erroneously told parents that their children would not be allowed to graduate, would be barred from Advanced Placement classes or would be forced to go to summer school.

“They are clinging to an obsolete test with such enthusiasm because they want to force compliance. They want parents to do what they’re told, sit down and shut up,” Fain said.

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