Posts Tagged ‘high-stakes testing’

PSAT for 5-11-13: Sign this Declaration to Rebuild America

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

psat_logoI know, there are a lot of petitions and sign-ons these days. Do they do any good?

This one seems especially comprehensive and is already signed by a good mix of people and organizations. It demonstrates that the message of true education progressives is becoming clearer and more unified.

The full Declaration to Rebuild America is too long to reproduce here, but its main aspects are very similar, for example, to Parents Across America’s statement of beliefs.

The Declaration includes seven principles including opposition to school privatization and high-stakes testing, as well as the need for equitable funding and a more engaging curriculum. The Declaration makes recommendations in seven areas including better assessments, effective discipline, and meaningful engagement of parents and others in setting school policy.

The statement concludes: “As a nation, we’re failing to provide the basics our children need for an opportunity to learn. Instead, we have substituted a punitive high-stakes testing regime that seeks to force progress on the cheap. But there is no shortcut to success. We must change course before we further undermine schools and drive away the teachers our children need.”

Take a look and consider signing and sharing.

Testing resistance: What LSCs can do

Saturday, May 4th, 2013


What Local School Councils can do to challenge

the misuse and overuse of standardized tests

Learn more about standardized testing.

  • Check out the More Than a Score web site for resources to share with your school’s parents, teachers and community. Share the MTAS fact sheets, “What Parents Need to Know about High-Stakes Testing,” in English and Spanish.
  • Download user-friendly fact sheets about a wide range of testing issues on the FairTest web site, on the testing resources page of PURE’s site, and from CReATE, a collaboration of local university researchers.

Hold a parent and/or community meeting where people can talk about testing. Ask teachers, education experts, More Than a Score or other group representatives to speak, and invite your local newspaper (see FairTest’s media toolkit for pointers)

Vote to sign the National Resolution on High-stakes Testing, and/or vote on your own resolution. Join the more than 80% of school boards in Texas and dozens in Florida and other states that have passed resolutions challenging high-stakes standardized testing, along with 11,000 individuals and 400 national organizations. Sign on to the National Resolution here: and/or vote on your own resolution (suggested versions here, a shorter one here and an even shorter one here).

Send or bring a copy of your adopted testing resolution to your local, state and federal legislators.

Pass the More Than a Score petition in English and/or Spanish in your school. Your can also sign our online petition here. 

The petition asks CPS to:

  • Eliminate standardized testing in grades K-2nd grade and greatly reduce it in all other grades.
  • End the use of standardized testing data to evaluate students and teachers and close schools.
  • Fully disclose the cost, schedule, nature and purpose of all standardized tests.

Get more involved with More Than a Score:

Consider carefully any budget expenditures for test preparation materials and programs. Your school’s discretionary funds are precious and might be better used for enrichment programs and other areas of learning which may have been reduced due to the pressures of standardized testing.

See more at

You can download a pdf version of this LSC tip sheet here.

PSAT for 4-30-13, Part 1: Stop shopping at Walmart!!!

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Why would anyone who cares about public schools shop at Walmart?

Really, folks. It’s your money. And when you shop at WalMart, your money goes to support:

  • more charter schools: $3.8 million in Chicago alone  including $230,000 for UNO charter schools.
  • more school closings: $500,000 to pay for Chicago’s sham “public engagement” school closing hearings.WalMartFrown
  • more astroturf “parent” groups like Stand for Children (millions) and Parent Revolution ($6.3 million) to push the parent trigger and other corporate reforms.
  • more high-stakes standardized testing: Walton supports teacher bonuses linked to raising test scores.
  • more vouchers for private and religious schools.
  • more Michelle Rhee: despite the recent scandals involving Rhee, WalMart just upped their giving to $8 million.

According to Diane Ravitch, “they commit about $160 million each year for charters, vouchers, Teach for America, think tanks, and media. Everything they do has the singular goal of dismantling public education and opening the schools to untrained, uncertified teachers.”

Maybe if every parent, every teacher, and every student in Chicago stopped shopping at WalMart, we wouldn’t all have to be out in the streets time and time again, like the three-day demonstration planned for May 18-19-20. 

Why boycott?

I had a plan to raise a boycott issue once a month, taking a cue from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s strategy – “our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from (businesses).”

I’ve also pointed out that, even without an admittedly unlikely crippling nationwide boycott of WalMart, Microsoft, Hyatt Hotels, etc., we can effectively put pressure where it really hurts: that is, in the corporate image of these companies.

I haven’t stuck with that plan, with so many other actions to take over the past months, but I remain convinced that we have the power to stop these corporate school raiders. WE JUST HAVE TO USE IT.

So. I guess I’m going to be harping on boycotts and attacking the corporate image of these corporate reformers once a month again for a while. I hope you’ll help spread the word.

Parents call CPS primary testing cutback a good, small step

Friday, April 26th, 2013

From More Than a Score

MTAS Play-In last week: parents have been demanding an end to standardized testing of primary students

MTAS Play-In last week: parents have been demanding an end to standardized testing of primary students

Press release: For immediate Release

April 26, 2013

CONTACT: Kirstin Roberts: 312-316-2636

Cassie Cresswell, 716-536-9313

Chicago IL: More Than a Score (MTAS), a coalition of parents, teachers, students and community members working against the misuse and overuse of high-stakes testing in the Chicago Public Schools, is pleased about yesterday’s announcement from CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett that the NWEA MPG End-of-Year administration for grades K-2 has been cancelled for this spring. The change in CPS policy is a good, if small, first step towards a sounder, more appropriate CPS assessment policy.

We are glad that the voices of the people on the front lines dealing with the consequences of a misguided assessment policy are starting to be heard and heeded. For the past several months, MTAS has been collecting signatures on petitions demanding an end to all standardized testing in Prek-2nd grade, among other testing reforms. MTAS held a Play-In at CPS headquarters last week to demonstrate the need for more play and less testing in the early grades.

Nonetheless, MTAS still has many concerns about CPS assessment policy:

  • For second graders, the NWEA MPG will simply be replaced with an administration of the NWEA MAP. From our understanding, this is the same assessment used for third graders, and CPS intends to use it to track 2nd graders by ability. According to the NWEA, the test is only for use with 2nd graders who can decode the instructions without audio help. Can all the 2nd graders who will be given this test do this? It will then be readministered to those same 2nd graders in the fall as a Beginning-of-Year exam, making its use as a baseline for 3rd grade instructional questionable.
  • Although the reduction in this test is of a great benefit to five and six year old children, by the end of this school year, many, possibly the majority, of those same children will still have been subject to 13 standardized testing administrations (or more when school-selected exams are included): Many of these are require one-on-one testing time by classroom teachers, further cutting into instructional time, particularly in classes of more than 30 students.
  • The testing regimen for preschoolers through second graders in CPS is still not in line with the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s research based recommendations on standardized testing for ages birth to eight years includes the following:

The use of formal standardized testing and norm-referenced assessments of young children is limited to situations in which such measures are appropriate and potentially beneficial, such as identifying potential disabilities.[…]When individually administered, norm-referenced tests of children’s progress are used as part of program evaluation and accountability, matrix sampling is used (that is, administered only to a systematic sample of children) so as to diminish the burden of testing on children and to reduce the likelihood that data will be inappropriately used to make judgments about individual children.” (

  • The value of the NWEA MAP test as an assessment tool is questionable for any grades. Research has found little benefit to MAP guided instruction for 4th and 5th graders: We are concerned that schools do not truly have the technological capacity to administer the MAP test efficiently, particularly in a way that does not restrict use of computer facilities for more important, non-assessment educational purposes.
  • Although MTAS would like to see a reduction (and elimination in the early years) of standardized testing and time spent on test preparation in CPS, the high-stakes consequences of many standardized tests concern us equally as much. Standardized tests should not be used as the basis for decisions on student promotion, teacher and principal evaluation, and school probation and closings. For example, the results of the REACH exam being administered to children as young as preschool will be used to evaluate their teachers.
  • We’re sure we’re not alone in wondering whether reducing the scores of test CPS now uses by a single test in two grades, was worth the resources put into conducting 17 focus groups to come to this decision. In addition, we would like to know whether CPS has already paid for the NWEA MPG spring administration. How much money was wasted on administering an exam on the entire school district twice this year and then deciding it was bad exam?
  • Until CPS starts really listening to the demands of parents, teachers, and students, MTAS will continue encouraging and assisting parents and students in the process of opting out of CPS’ excessive and damaging standardized testing program.

 Rachel Lessem, CPS parent of 2nd grade student, commented: “I support the decision to suspend NWEA testing for K-1, but I believe CPS should extend the policy further. The change to 2nd grade may even hurt our children by administering a more difficult test without supports to emerging readers. All our children are suffering from excessive testing, and it’s hurting, not helping their education. They are stressed and bored by these tests, and their teachers are forced to teach to the test instead of creating engaging and creative learning environments for our kids. CPS must do more.”

PSAT for 4-23-13: Support the student PSAE test boycott

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

psat_logoTomorrow, CPS high school students organized by Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools and VOYCE will boycott the second day of the state high school exam, the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE).

The first testing day includes the ACT test, which many students need for college applications. The students are asserting their right to make up the second day test during a state-scheduled make-up test day next month.

The students say they are “under-resourced, over-tested and fed up!”

The students are making the direct connection between testing and school closing, which they oppose. They will hold a press conference tomorrow prior to the school board meeting,

For Public Schools Action Tuesday (PSAT), here’s what you can do to support the students:

  • Like their Facebook page.
  • Watch and share their excellent video.
  • Wear white tomorrow in solidarity.
  • Follow their twitter feeds – @chistudentsorg and look for #cpsboycott

Students opting out of PSAE

Monday, April 22nd, 2013


Some students from Gage Park High School are planning to boycott part of the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE).

About 80 Gage Park students walked out of a NAEP exam earlier this year. NAEP is a national exam used to compare districts and states across the U.S. The students objected to having their time taken up with tests that had no bearing on their studies, at a time when some students didn’t even feel safe inside the school.

A WBEZ report quotes the students saying they are sick of test prep and opposed to the use of PSAE test scores to evaluate teachers, principals and schools.

The danger of the PSAE boycott is that the exam is a state graduation requirement — students don’t have to “pass” the PSAE but they do have to take it.

Here’s hoping that they will show up, sign their names to the test, answer at least one question, and then do whatever else they feel moved to do.




PSAT for 3-19-13, Part 2: Come to the testing forum tonight!

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013


When: Tonight! March 19! 7 pm!

Where: Mt Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, 2976 S. Wabash, Chicago

What: Chicago Parent/Teacher/Community/Student forum: “The Case against Chicago’s High-Stakes Standardized Testing”

This forum will be crowded, so come early.

Hear from Jesse Hagopian, leader of the Garfield teacher test boycott in Seattle, a local Gage Park HS student who was part of a recent student test boycott, and our own Karen Lewis.

You’ll also hear about some of More Than a Score’s upcoming activities.

As we move into high gear with resistance to school closings, don’t forget that standardized testing enables school closing.

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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.