Parent and teacher groups denounce Barbara Byrd Bennett's latest threats against parents and children who are massing to opt out of Chicago's testing programs

Within a few hours after parents, teachers and students received the latest threats from Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett on January 29, 2014, responses ranging from disagreement to outrage began pouring out. In addition to the growing number of public statements received by Substance press time (midnight, January 29 - 30), a growing group of parents has begun exploring litigation and political action to challenge Byrd Bennett's threat to deny children possible placement in the city's magnet high schools because of opt out. Parents point out that for years CPS has privileged parochial school students and those home schooled by allowing them to take the "entrance exam" without having to bring in so-called "standardized" test scores, like those now being mandated by Byrd Bennett.

More than a Score and hundreds of members of the growing resistance in Chicago will be meeting on February 6 to elaborate strategy and tactics in the face of the tyranny of Barbara Byrd Bennett's latest threats in particular and standardized testing in general. While the organizing against the eugenics - based Race To The Top testing programs of corporate "school reform" have been significant in Chicago and across the country this school year, the threats from Chicago's Ohio-based "Chief Executive Officer" have enraged a growing number of activists and that rage is spreading across the city. Even principals are beginning to see that the example of Newark New Jersey's principals has to be followed, since the corporate testing straight jacket currently on the schools means that no matter what they do their schools will "fail." That is why, in 2014, the majority of "Chiefs," "Network Chiefs," and other corporate-titled executives at CPS are upping the pressure on school leaders, usually via the principals.

Probably the biggest events in the next ten days will be the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates meeting on February 5 (Wednesday) and the More than a Score meeting on February 6 (Thursday). More than a score sent out an updated notice on January 30:

Is NWEA the new ISAT? Why not ice the ISAT then?

Why does "reduced" testing seem like more testing?

What does it all mean for opting out?

Please join More Than a Score for a free public forum

on the current state of standardized testing in the Chicago Public Schools

When: Thursday, February 6, 2014

6:30 to 8 pm

Where: Haas Park (Washtenaw at Fullerton � ample free street parking, two blocks from California O'Hare Blue Line El)

We'll talk about:

* the many testing changes in CPS this year,

* how these changes may affect opting out and other testing resistance activities, and

* better ways to assess student progress.

For more information please go to or

e-mail us at

Haas Park

2402 N. Washtenaw Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60647

View Map � Get Directions

Less than one year after their hypocrisies were exposed during the drive to close 50 of the city's real public schools, Chicago Board of Education member Andrea Zopp (above left) and the current schools "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett, right, have begun to panic about the explosive growth of the Opt Out movement in Chicago. On January 29, 2014, Byrd Bennett issued another F�heredikt warning parents and children not to dare opt out.MORE THAN A SCORE EARLIER PRESS RELEASE:

From More Than a Score: Contact Cassie Creswell 716-536-9313

January 29, 2014. Today, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara

Byrd-Bennett sent a letter home to parents warning them against opting their children out of NWEA tests as well as ISAT tests. In her letter (attached) CEO Byrd-Bennett stated that students would not be considered for selective enrollment high schools or for promotion to the next grade if they did not take the NWEA. She also stated that the ISAT is required under NCLB. More Than a Score, a coalition challenging the misuse and overuse of standardized tests in CPS, is preparing a statement in response to CEO Byrd-Bennett's letter for distribution later today.

In general, we disagree with the claim that CPS has significantly reduced the number of

tests students are being given, and we object to the inappropriate focus on one test in so many high-stakes decisions. MTAS had already responded to a similar letter to parents from CEO

Byrd-Bennett sent on December 20, 2013, warning them against opting out of the NWEA.

A full press release on today's letter will be forthcoming later today.


January 29, 2014

Dear Teachers,

As a former teacher and principal, I understand how important it is to maximize our instructional time with students. But I also know that rigorous, high-quality assessments are valuable in measuring student progress. Our challenge, then, is to strike a balance between the two.

This year we reduced our number of required assessments from 25 to 10, allowing schools to focus on the measures that are most critical to student learning.

This year�s ISAT will be more aligned to the Common Core. Some claim that this test will not count for anything as the state moves toward PARCC, however, I believe it is still an important exam as it is an additional opportunity to understand the increased expectations of a Common Core-aligned test. In addition, ISAT � like PSAE for high schools � is still a measure used to determine AYP.

NWEA MAP is also an important measure of student knowledge aligned to the Common Core. Already a part of the Promotion Policy, teacher evaluation, principal evaluation, and the new School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP), NWEA MAP will also be used this year as the screening test for selective enrollment eligibility.

Students must score at or above the 24th percentile on NWEA MAP to qualify to take the selective enrollment exam. I know that questions regarding opting out of NWEA MAP have been raised, so let me be clear: CPS students without an NWEA MAP score will not be eligible for selective enrollment or promotion in grades 3, 6, and 8. In addition, SQRP ratings will suffer for test participation rates of less than 95%.

Parents requesting to have their children opt out of the NWEA MAP must first have a conversation with the principal to discuss the consequences to their children. If after this conversation they still wish to opt out, they must make their request in writing. Parents should be informed that there will be no alternate instruction given during the assessment and that children who are not being assessed will be required to engage in a silent, self-guided activity while their peers are being tested.

As we approach the testing season, I encourage you to continue aligning your instruction to the Common Core. These standards provide a clear, consistent expectation for student learning, along with a level of rigor we have not previously seen across K-12 education.

In addition, please remember how seriously I take our District�s zero-tolerance policy for any cheating or testing improprieties. The consequences for violating this policy have been and will continue to be enforced, up to and including termination.

As teachers, you are the front line in our efforts to provide quality learning opportunities for all students. I value your contribution and thank you for the work you do each day on behalf of Chicago�s next generation.


Barbara Byrd Bennett, CEO, Chicago Public Schools


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