Posts Tagged ‘FairTest’

Mark your calendars!

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Please download and share this flyer with your networks and plan to attend this important event!

Citywide testing resistance strategy session Nov 2

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

When FairTest’s Monty Neill comes to town on Friday, Nov 2, for a public forum on testing issues at 7 pm at St Xavier University, he has also agreed to help lead an afternoon citywide strategy session on anti-testing resistance – how we can work across groups, unite behind some common messages, share resources and otherwise build a strong testing resistance in Chicago.

The session will be from 2 to 4 pm on Friday Nov 2nd at the CTU office, 4th floor in the Merchandise Mart.

We realize that this timing will make it difficult or impossible for teachers to attend, but Monty will be meeting separately with the CTU as well. We are hoping that leaders and organizers for parents, education advocacy and community groups and others who would like to become more active around and learn more about testing issues will attend.

We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and brainstorm with leader of the the nation’s anti-testing movement. (The qr code above will take you to the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing, which Monty spearheaded, with input from PURE, Parents Across America, and others and which you and your group should endorse if you haven’t already!).

Please let me know if you intend to attend or if you have questions:


Testing resistance heating up in Chicago

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

FairTest’s Monty Neill, the undisputed leader of the national testing resistance movement, will be in Chicago on Friday, November 2, for a citywide strategy session on fighting Chicago’s standardized testing insanity, and a public forum on testing issues at 7 pm at St. Xavier University.

Anti-testing fever has been heating up ever since the CTU strike, where the issue of excessive and unfair testing and test-based “accountability” as forcefully and effectively raised by marchers and their picket signs.

I spoke at a forum last week organized by CPS parents from Drummond Montessori School who are interested in opting their children out of testing. I will be sharing some of the same information as part of the panel for the Nov. 2nd forum,

If you are interested in joining the citywide testing resistance strategy session, please contact me. And we urge everyone to come out to hear the amazing Monty Neill on Nov. 2:

Over Testing Forum
Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 pm
Butler Room,  St. Xavier University – 3700 W. 103rd St.

Sponsored by St. Xavier University, 19th Ward Parents, and PURE.

PSAT for 4-24-12: Sign the National Resolution on High Stakes Testing

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Please sign on here (as individuals and, where appropriate, as organizations such as Local School Councils, etc.) Here’s what and why:

Advancement Project – Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund – FairTest – Forum for Education and Democracy – NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund – National Education Association – Parents Across America – United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries

for further information:

Monty Neill (617) 477-9792

Pamela Grundy (704) 375-4222

Matt Cregor (646) 515-5284

for immediate release, Tuesday, April 24, 2012



Inspired by a statement adopted by more than 360 Texas school boards, major national education, civil rights and parents groups have launched a resolution calling on federal and state policymakers to reduce standardized test mandates and, instead, base school accountability on multiple forms of measurement.

The initial signers include the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Parents Across America, National Education Association, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, Advancement Project, National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Forum for Education and Democracy. Other supporters include educators such as Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch as well as community-based education groups in New York, Chicago and Charlotte.

The groups are seeking endorsements from other local, state and national organizations as well as individuals concerned with the rapid increase in time, money and energy devoted to exams used to make major decisions about students, educators and schools. Supporters can sign on at,

Dr. Monty Neill, Executive Director of FairTest who helped coordinate drafting the resolution, explained, “The overreliance on high-stakes standardized testing is undermining educational quality and equity across the U.S. The collateral damage includes narrowed curriculum, low-scoring students pushed out of school, and teaching to the test.”

“By teaching to the test, we are depriving a generation of youth, particularly youth of color growing up in low-income communities, from developing the critical thinking skills they need, and our country needs, to be competitive in this global economy,” added Matt Cregor, Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Parents are fed up with constant testing,” concluded Pamela Grundy from Parents Across America, who helped lead a community revolt against expanding testing in Charlotte, North Carolina last year. “We want our elected leaders to support real learning, not endless evaluation.”

The resolution urges state officials to “reexamine school accountability” and develop a system “which does not require extensive standardized testing, more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is used to support students and improve schools.” At the federal level, it calls on the U.S. Congress and Obama Administration to overhaul “No Child Left Behind” and “to reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability, and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.” The full text is online at

Testing forum with Monty Neill on CAN-TV Sunday

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

From CReATE leaders Diane and Isabel:


Thanks so much for attending the forum on Winning the Testing Battle and giving us thoughtful feedback. We greatly appreciate your interest in receiving information from us.

The forum will be broadcast on CAN TV 21 on Sunday, March 11th at 9 a.m. (and that’s the day we set the clocks forward!). Tell your friends who couldn’t make it to UIC.

Some web resources that might be helpful to you include:

Copies of the CReATE brief on testing, please go to:

United OptOut National – “a movement to end punitive public school testing”  (


Forum for Educational Accountability:

Forum for Education and Democracy:

We are also attaching a powerful work of research on Turnaround Schools written by Dr. Donald Moore of Designs for Change. (report here)

Finally, the next CReATE forum will be held on April 11th at Roosevelt University.  The topic will be safety and discipline in schools.  We will send you a flyer when we have the details.

Please feel free to contact Isabel Nunez ( or Diane Horwitz ( with any questions, comments, ideas.

ESEA begins another year’s journey

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Experts are predicting (also here) that the No Child Left Behind Act will not be revised in 2012. Meanwhile, Republican House education committee leaders are planning to change strategy and write a more comprehensive ESEA bill, dropping their efforts to come to agreement with Democrats on a set of issue-specific pieces and preparing a larger bill like the one passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last October.

The House committee has already passed individual bills on expanding charter schools, program consolidation, and funding flexibility. Only their charter school bill passed the full House. The Senate HELP committee bill has not moved to the full Senate.

The House ed committee is apparently now working on “accountability” (read testing) and “teacher quality” (read more testing) provisions to combine with the three bills already passed in the committee. While a final decision may not be near, this is the time when legislative language is being written. Once written, it becomes more difficult to change. That means that we should continue to contact our legislators to inform them of our concerns and ideas for the future of our children’s education. Parents Across America has a comprehensive position statement here.

Here’s a new comment on ESEA from FairTest’s Monty Neill (advertisement – don’t miss Monty here in Chicago Feb 15th!) 

Monty Neill on ESEA reauthorization posted today on National Journal education blog

The key question is, What’s the content?

The most pressing issue is not whether a NCLB reauthorization bill is partisan or not, but whether it helps improve teaching and learning.

NCLB has seriously damaged U.S. educational quality and equity. FairTest explains why in our just-released report, NCLB’s Lost Decade for Educational Progress: What Can We Learn from this Policy Failure? The combination of high-stakes testing overuse and unsound sanctions has undermined good schools, hindered and misdirected reform efforts in weaker ones, and perpetuated the dangerous illusion that schools alone can solve the problems of poverty and segregation.

Secretary Duncan’s waiver scheme does remove the boot of “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) from the necks of schools in states that accept the bad deal of judging teachers “in significant part” on the basis of student test scores. Despite rhetoric from President Obama and his education secretary about the low quality of standardized exams and the harm of teaching to them, they are intensifying the pressure on school people to narrow the curriculum and teach to the tests.

The Senate HELP bill likewise scuttles AYP. It at least limits the requirement to judge teachers by student test scores only to states that choose to use some ESEA discretionary funds to construct a teacher evaluation system. It also takes a more reasonable approach to school improvement in calling for a tailored plan based on a review of the particular school. Unfortunately, it undermines this sensible approach (strongly recommended by the Forum on Educational Accountability, FEA) by also insisting that districts pick from a menu of rigid options that closely resemble NCLB’s sanctions.

So what should the House do, hopefully as bipartisan legislation but even if Republican only? It should also drop AYP. It should not require any state to use student test scores to judge educators. And it should entirely scrap any remnants of the misguided NCLB sanctions structure.

But it should go well beyond these steps and follow the recommendations outlined in FairTest’s report (which in turn overlap with both FEA and the Broader, Bolder Approach). These include:

–          Reduce the amount of mandated testing to once each in elementary, middle and high school. No other advanced nation tests more than this. For example, top-performing Finland does not test at all for school evaluation. Over-testing in the U.S. has simply produced state test score inflation, not real gains in learning, as demonstrated by stagnant NAEP scores for almost all groups.

–          Provide serious support to enable states to work with districts to construct assessment systems rooted in ongoing student schoolwork. There are ways to do this that are unobtrusive, avoid teaching to the test and narrowing the curriculum, produce adequately reliable and strongly valid evidence of student learning, and support strengthening the capacity of the teaching force.

–          Provide serious support to states willing to build a school quality review system.

Taken together, these systems of assessment and evaluation can produce rich information to use in school improvement, as I’ve explained in an Education Week Commentary. By building on the school improvement ideas in the Senate HELP bill but jettisoning the continuing link to NCLB sanctions, the rich evidence of student learning and school strengths and weaknesses can be used to foster systemic school reform.

To succeed, these reforms will require additional funds for schools serving our most impoverished children. Even then, Congress should not perpetuate the falsehood that schools can overcome the consequences of poverty. Solving that vast problem goes well beyond an education bill, though ensuring high quality pre-school and wrap-around services are steps that Congress can take in reauthorizing ESEA.


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.