Posts Tagged ‘too much testing’

Chicago pays $78.4 million fine for stupid job test

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

People are getting more and more concerned about the cost of testing — and we really have no idea what we’re spending.

But here’s a big number everyone can understand: a $78 million compensation award for Chicago African-American firefighter applicants who, according to a federal judge, were denied job opportunity as a firefighter because of the city’s discriminatory entrance test.

The Sun-Times reported:

“The 1995 firefighters entrance exam was drafted by an African American with an eye toward diversifying a Chicago Fire Department with a long and documented history of discrimination. When results for minorities were disappointing, the city established a cutoff score of 89 and hired randomly from the top 1,800 “well-qualified” candidates. In 2005, a federal judge ruled that the city’s decision had the effect of perpetuating the predominantly white status quo, because 78 percent of those “well-qualified” candidates were white.”

As for the costs of the nation’s rapidly growing test and test prep programs, we may have to look for answers to legislation like this resolution passed by the New Mexico Senate, which expresses concern that testing is eating into instructional time, and requires a report on

  • the number and kinds of tests required by various entities, such as the federal government, state government, district and school or classroom assessments;
  • the per-student cost of assessments;
  • the amount of instructional time spent both on preparing students to take assessments and on the time spent by students taking assessments; and
  • the ways in which the data are used.

Teacher Adam Heenan shared this with me after our testing panel at St Xavier last night (more on that later). He reports that the resolution passed the NM Senate and similar language was adopted by the NEA and AFT this past summer. Adam says that the proposal was written with Xian Barrett and Elaine Romero along with input and inspiration from George and Sharon Schmidt.

Check out Adam’s blog here.


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:


Duncan on testing: twitterdum?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

I had to leave in the middle of the Arne Duncan Twitter Town Hall to do an interview about Rahm’s Trojan Horse (watch it on CBS-2 this evening and read more here) but I did hear our Fed Ed Head talk out of both sides of his mouth (as usual) about testing.

Here’s a brief report from about Fed Ed Head Duncan’s interchange with host John Merrow on the subject:

While Duncan was adamant that testing is critical to measure reading levels and annual improvements, he did admit that “the law is too punitive” and schools need to be granted “more flexibility and autonomy.”

“Students shouldn’t even be tested 10 days out of the year. It is too much,” Duncan said.

“Growth and gain need to be evaluated,” Duncan continued,” but that doesn’t mean excessive testing.”

Duncan noted that good teachers need to be rewarded for their hard work and bad teachers need to improve. He even suggested implementing a reward system with higher pay for schools with higher performance. He maintained, however, that the only way to measure this is through testing.


Duncan’s rhetoric about testing is a slippery as his charter school dodge (“I only support good charter schools”).

Duncan’s “growth and gain” only mean one thing – year-to-year changes in scores on one-shot standardized tests. Duncan’s ‘better tests” are simply expanded, computerized standardized tests.

In other words, more of the same.

Just because you call a pig “better” or “more flexible” or “value-added” doesn’t mean it isn’t still a pig.

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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.