2nd CPS school votes to boycott state assessment test

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A day after Chicago Public Schools warned staff against encouraging students to opt out of a state assessment test, teachers at a second school have voted to join a boycott of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test.

The Chicago Teachers Union said members at Drummond Montessori decided to “take action” against the ISAT< which CPS is not using this year for promotions and eligibility for elite schools. The test is however required by state law and is used to determine compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind law.

On Thursday, schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent a letter to district principals, warning them that employees could face disciplinary action if they interfere with the testing process. She also stated that teachers encouraging students to opt out of the ISAT could see their certification revoked by the state Certification Board.

The letter was sent after teachers at Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Little Village voted earlier this week against administering the ISAT. An anti-testing coalition of mostly parents has called for a general boycott of the test.

The groups complain endless standardized testing takes away from instructional time. So far, coalition organizers say parents at more than 50 schools have submitted letter to principals saying their children choose not to take test.

“This second boycott is evidence that more and more educators continue to take a principled stand against harmful tests and in support of their parents and students,” said CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey in a press release. “The CTU supports these teachers and calls on the district to stop making threats to parents and educators who are trying to restore some sanity to the education system.”

CTU said its lawyers are looking into the district’s threats and that they believe teachers cannot have their certification revoked for taking a stand against standardized testing.

On Friday, in response to news that teachers from another school had also joined the anti-testing protest, CPS released a letter from the Illinois State Board of Education to Byrd-Bennett.

“Districts and schools are required to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) under both federal and state law and any district or school that does not comply with those legal requirements faces possible local and state disciplinary action and runs the risk of reduced state and federal funds,” stated the letter signed by state superintendent Christopher A. Koch and chairman Gery Chico.

The testing period lasts two weeks, but the ISBE letter stated the actual test taking amounted to about 6 hours for grades 3, 5, 6 and 8, and 8 hours of testing for 4th and 7th graders.

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah

Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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