Posts Tagged ‘testing’

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.

Testing forum – from Seattle to Chicago March 19!

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013


From Seattle to Chicago: testing forum March 19th

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

March 19 flyerFrom Seattle to Chicago:

The Case Against High Stakes Standardized Testing

Tuesday, March 19, 7:00pm
Mt. Carmel MB Baptist Church, 2976 S. Wabash

With Jesse Hagopian, teacher at Garfield High School in Seattle and leader of MAP test boycott
and Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers Union president

Sign up for this event on Facebook!

The well-publicized efforts of teachers, parents and students in Seattle in boycotting the MAP test there has brought the issue of the overuse and misuse of high stakes standardized testing to the national stage.

Join teachers, parents and students to understand the role high stakes testing is playing in undermining great teaching and learning in our schools.

Test scores are a key component of school rankings and closings, student tracking and promotion, principal evaluations, teacher evaluations, and all too often result in a limited and narrow curriculum in our classrooms. Tests unfairly discriminate against schools with low income students, students of color and students with disabilities.

We will discuss the many options for becoming involved in the growing movement against excessive standardized testing in our schools.

Childcare will be provided.

Sponsored by
More Than A Score,
the Chicago Teachers Union
and CReATE

Chicago parents pass petitions at 37 schools to limit CPS testing

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

standardized-testsMore Than a Score press release – Feb 6, 2013

Chicago parents pass petitions at 37 schools to limit CPS testing

Joining National Day of Action to Support Seattle MAP Test Boycott

Chicago, IL: Demanding fewer standardized tests in their children’s schools, and more test transparency from the district, parents of children in 37 Chicago public schools gathered signatures before and after school today on a new petition created by the parent, teacher, student and community coalition, “More Than a Score.”

The event is also a show of support for the Feb. 6 National Day of Action to Support Seattle MAP Test Boycott.

The petitions ask CPS and the Chicago Board of Education to limit standardized testing and provide more transparency about the cost, amount and stakes of the 22 tests now being used in the district. The group intends to present the completed petitions all together to the Board in the near future.

“Our children just take too many tests,” said parent Joy Clendenning, whose children attend Ray elementary school and Kenwood high school. Joy was out early this morning while parents dropped their children off at school, talking to other parents and collecting signatures. “It’s getting to the point where the libraries and computer labs are being used for testing more than learning, and our children are missing out on other important areas of education because of all the testing.”

The More Than a Score petition has three demands:

  • Eliminate standardized testing for children from preschool to 2nd grade and greatly reduce it for 3rd grade and above.
  • End the use of standardized testing data to evaluate students and educators and to close schools.
  • Fully disclose the cost, schedule, nature, and purpose of all standardized tests.

Rachel Lessem, whose child attends Pritzker elementary school, passed petitions after school today. “Something has to be done,” she said. “CPS says they have to close schools and disrupt communities to save money, yet they are spending untold millions of dollars on standardized testing instead of small class sizes and other important improvements that might actually help struggling schools.”

The petition was written by parents and others frustrated with the scale, expense and consequences of the testing regime in CPS. The group has been disappointed with CPS’s lack of response to their concerns and hopes the petition will serve as a wake-up call to the Board of Education and the CPS leadership that parents, students, teachers and community members will no longer accept the status quo of high stakes standardized testing currently in use in Chicago.

Parents collecting signatures reported reactions of great interest and some surprise from the parents they spoke to. Jennie Biggs, who passed petitions at Mark Sheridan school, said, “Many parents asked me, ‘How come I don’t know about all this testing?’ Then, they would sign.!”

“Tests are taking over our children’s education,” Jennie added. “They should not be given so much weight in judging students, teachers, or schools. We think the best way to do that is to look at what children are actually doing in the classroom, not just how well they fill out bubble sheets.”

The group timed their event in part to coincide with a national day of support for the Garfield High School teachers in Seattle and all teachers in Seattle Public Schools who are refusing to administer the MAP test. These teachers have gained national attention and support for their stand against the Measure of Academic Progress, for its invalidity, waste of time and resources and its scandalous arrival to Seattle.

An online version of the More Than a Score petition garnered some 2,500 signatures in its first week.


Here’s the link to the map of schools where parents passed petitions today:

For more information, please visit

PSAT for 2-5-13: Fight the tests – and school closings

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

psat_logoThe enemy has us fighting on at least two fronts: school closings and testing.

Most of the time, the two things are completely connected. Low test scores – which are most closely related to economic status –  provide corporate reformers with the excuse to close schools. This year CPS has changed it up a bit by crying poor and “underutilized” using a bunch of data (100,000 “lost” city children, 50% empty schools) that is just as fishy as the test scores.

They have seemingly unlimited resources to fight on several fronts (see, for example, WalMart funding CPS’s bogus school closing hearings and the Gates Foundation funding Common Core tests).

But, as the recent huge turnouts for the CPS school closing “hearings” has shown, we have the people power and the truth.

Tomorrow’s anti-testing petition drive, sponsored by the new More Than a Score group, of which PURE is a founding member, is another example of our strength. Parents from at least 34 CPS schools will be passing petitions opposing the misuse and overuse of tests in CPS. Stop by one of these schools at the beginning or end of the day, sign a petition, and show your support!

Then turn out for one of the CPS hearings. Schedule here. 

BBB says she will release a proposed list of schools to close by Feb. 13. Here’s the latest from Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force guru Jackie Leavy:

CHICAGO EMBASSY CHURCH, 5848 S. PRINCETON(registration/sign-in at 9 am)
**  This location accessible for Schools in CPS’ Englewood-Gresham, Burnham Park, and Skyway Networks. **

The General Assembly’s Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force wants YOUR INPUT.   No Walton Foundation-paid consultants filtering what you have to say! No “info-mercials”. No ban on the media. CEFTF members ask questions when you testify, and listen to your answers. The CEFTF wants to know:  What is YOUR vision for the future of our public schools?

SAVE THE DATES:  SAT., MARCH 9th – CEFTF Hearing in West Town/Humboldt Park
SAT, APRIL 13th  –  CEFTF Hearing in Roseland/Far South Side

Written testimony should be sent to:
State Law now requires CPS to draft a Master Plan by MAY 1st, and adopt a final version by OCT. 1st, 2013.

BE HEARD, SPEAK OUT. Your ideas and concerns will be help shape the CEFTF’s findings and future legislative reform recommendations.

PSAT for 1-29-13: Solidarity with Garfield teachers – and our new petition

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

psat_logoTomorrow, WEDNESDAY, January 30 is a national call/phone/fax day to tell Seattle Public Schools that you, your organization and your union stand with the Garfield test boycotters. Send your message to Seattle Schools Superintendant José Banda:

  • Phone: (206) 252-0180
  • Fax: (206) 252-0209
  • E-mail:

Here’s the letter Parents Across America/PAA-Seattle wrote in solidarity with the teachers.

Take some time today to listen to PAA’s testing webinar from Sunday Jan. 29 which featured Garfield teacher Sarah Johnson along with FairTest’s Monty Neill and national testing opt-out leaders Tim Slekar and  Shaun Johnson.

Looking ahead, the following Wednesday, February 6, has been called as a national day of solidarity for the Garfield teachers. More than a Score has chosen that day for a Chicago citywide testing petition day. Details and resources for petition passers are here. Please add your school to the list of locations for the Feb. 6 petition day.

Better than tests

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Monty Neill 1-24-13

That question was soundly answered last night at the forum, “Assessments that Make Sense” in Bronzeville (photos coming)

A room crowded with parents, teachers, students and community members from all over the city heard Monty Neill  present two successful alternatives to standardized testing accountability:

  • the Performance Assessment student project-based model used in New York in place of state Regents’ exams, and
  • the Learning Record, a teacher- based observation and reporting system that has been used in dozens of Bureau of Indian Affairs schools and in California and New York City.

High school students assessed in the Performance Assessment model, who demographically include far more low-income, English-language learner and special education students than the state overall, have shown better high school graduation rates and college enrollment and graduation rates than stdents across the state.

Why? Dr. Neill suggests it’s due to a curriculum, instruction and assessment system that is student-based, not test-based. Students are all evaluated using the same standards and scales across four major subject areas, but they choose their own topics and methods, which makes them more engaged and serious about their work.

Panelist Ahkeem Wright (pictured left, center), a student at Gage Park High School and a member of Southwest Organizing Project and VOYCE, illustrated this point by saying that he would be more interested in math if the problems were about yardage on the football field than what they usually ask.

Josie Yanguas (pictured left at the podium), Board member of the Illinois Association of Multilingual Multicultural Education, pointed out that students who are bilingual would be considered an asset in any other country, but our English language test centered nation judges them as deficient.

CPS teacher Kimberly Bowsky talked about an assessment she used to evaluate her students’ understanding  of a series of films on civil rights  she had shown. Rather than requiring them to write a report using academic language – which may take up to 7 years for some students to develop – she asked them to create pictures. The samples she showed us did indeed eloquently present important concepts from the films.

CPS parent Linda Hudson (pictured left on the right) shared her story about the CPS promotion policy, which has been told here before. Linda suggested that her son’s creativity was considered out of place and that the ISAT, combined with CPS’s “multiple barriers” retention policy, did a poor job of showing what he was able to do. Despite the set-backs caused by CPS’s policy, her son is doing well, but she has chosen to send him to a private high school.

Questions from the audience were excellent – the biggest applause line was for an 8th grade student who was already opting out of the tests and standing up to administrators who were trying to tell her that she couldn’t.

You can read more here about the alternative assessments Dr Neill talked about, and view the power point presentation he used.

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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.