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'...The ISAT, however, is not aligned to any CPS curriculum, and in Chicago, it is no longer used to measure student progress, school performance, promotion, or for any other purpose...' Chicago Teachers Union to help parents opt children out of the ISAT!

In a major event with national implications, the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union, the second largest K-12 local in the American Federation of Teachers (the United Teachers of Los Angeles is larger, but is part of both the AFT and the National Education Association) has called on its member to help parents to boycott the Illinois State Achievement Tests (ISAT) scheduled to be administered in all of Chicago's 600 public schools from March 4 - 12, 2014.

Already, hundreds of parents across Chicago have been trying to get their children opted out of the ISAT, while hundreds of elementary school teachers are still doing "ISAT Prep" with their classes despite the fact that the tests are being discontinued. Among those whose children are opting out of the ISAT are the sons of CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey and Julie Fain (Caleb and Leo Sharkey) and the sons of this reporter (Josh and Sam Schmidt). At some schools, principals have been calling in individual parents and threatening them when they try to opt out their children.

An opt out form has been available for several months on the Website of More Than A Score, a local Chicago group.

The boycott of the ISAT will directly challenge Pearson, the largest corporate peddler of so-called "standardized tests." Despite the fact that Pearson tests have been exposed for numerous scandals for more than a decade, the corporation has continued to win business across the USA during the era of massive testing which is part of corporate "school reform."

"Illinois paid over $18 million this year to Pearson Corporation for the ISAT,' the CTU press release states. "The portion attributed to CPS is roughly $3.4 million, impacting over 171,000 students. The total cost of administering the tests are the untold hours of preparation for the exam, and the loss of valuable instructional hours that could be spent on real learning."

In another recent letter distributed to students for distribution to their parents, Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett continued to threaten those who actively oppose the tests. Pressure has been increased through Chicago's "Network Chiefs" on principals to bully parents and teachers into continuing to promote the ISAT. Chicago's principals have become distinguished by their cowardly refusal to stand up to corporate school reform as school principals and administrators across the county have come out public and in their own names against the tests and the so-called "Common Core."

Chicago Teachers Union President David Vitale spoke at the January 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Eduction (above). Substance photo by David Vance.In a February 3, 2014 press release, the CTU stated:

CTU SUPPORTS PARENT BOYCOTT OF LOW-STAKES ISAT. Illinois State Achievement Test is costly, obsolete and steals learning time

CHICAGOIn advance of the Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT) to be issued to Chicago Public School students March 3-14, 2014, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today announced support for parents choosing to opt their children out of testing and renewed a call for the Chicago Board of Education to cease administration of the ISAT.

The low stakes test is administered over the course of eight days in all elementary schools. Formerly used to help qualify 7th grade students for selective enrollment high schools. The district recently issued a memorandum to teachers stressing the value of rigorous, high-quality assessments, in measuring student progress. The ISAT, however, is not aligned to any CPS curriculum, and in Chicago, it is no longer used to measure student progress, school performance, promotion, or for any other purpose.

The ISAT is an obsolete testit has no use to educators or administrators and the state is junking it next year, said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. It is of no use in selective enrollment, and serves no purpose other than to give students another standardized test.

Illinois paid over $18 million this year to Pearson Corporation for the ISAT. The portion attributed to CPS is roughly $3.4 million, impacting over 171,000 students. The total cost of administering the tests are the untold hours of preparation for the exam, and the loss of valuable instructional hours that could be spent on real learning.

For the last decade, since the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the ISAT test has been the primary lever used by CPS for its destructive, destabilizing policies of closures and turnarounds. System-wide, the ISAT has infected the vigor and breadth of curriculum as teachers and students became stymied by the requirements of a narrow test-based approach to learning. NCLB has now been panned as a broad failure, but with the transition into more new tests, CPS threatens to double-down on the failed policy of standardized-test based accountability. The CTU believes that the letter teachers recently received was recognition of the fear that parents will opt out of the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP) assessment, despite threats that students without MAP scores will not be eligible for selective enrollment, there will be no alternate instruction given during the days of testing and children who are not participating in the assessment will be left to fend for themselves in self-guided activity. The CPS letter to parents also created an additional hurdle for parents, who oppose the excessive class time devoted to test prep and test administration, to opt their children out of testing.

Last year, the CTU joined teachers, students, parents and education advocates nationwide standing in solidarity with Garfield High School in Seattle and all Seattle public schools refusing to administer the MAP.

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The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTUs website at www.ctunet.com.



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