A group of about 100 people rallied Monday in the Bridgeport neighborhood to call on Chicago Public Schools officials not to retaliate against a group of teachers who refused to administer a state mandated test to students.
CPS had threatened the boycotting teachers with disciplinary measures including decertification if they did not administer the multi-day Illinois State Achievement Test, which began last week.
CPS issued a statement Monday afternoon saying school officials were “engaged in discussion with the Illinois State Board of Education about appropriate disciplinary action against teachers who chose not to administer the test.”
Parents and teachers gathered at the Monday rally, which was organized by the Chicago Teachers Union, said the boycotting teachers were acting in the interest of children who are already subjected to a dizzying amount of testing.
About 45 teachers, mostly from Saucedo Elementary in the Little Village neighborhood, boycotted the test because they felt the ISAT, which is being phased out next year, is gratuitous and a waste of valuable instruction time. Critics say the ISAT does not count toward school performance, student admission in selective enrollment schools, or for teacher evaluation. The test is required of all student in grades 3 through 8.
“The test is a corpse,” Anne Carlson, a boycotting teacher from Drummond Elementary, said at the rally, held in a CPS satellite office on the Southwest Side.
About 1,700 students spread across dozens of schools opted not to take the exam, according to a CTU news release.
“There will be no retaliation,” said Zerlina Smith, a parent with a child at Saucedo. “It’s an empty threat. . . . Taking away a teacher’s certification for trying to do their job, which is to teach children, that would be inhumane.”
The CPS statement also said this: “While CPS has decreased the number of standardized tests issued each year, the District is required by Illinois law to administer the ISAT. CPS encouraged teachers to follow this mandate, in part because it is tied to funding that delivers critical resources to the classroom. The vast majority of students eligible to take the ISAT across the district – approximately 99 percent – participated, helping teachers identify academic progress as well as those who may need additional support to ensure our students are 100 percent college ready and 100 percent college bound.”
Officials from CTU dispute that the ISAT is tied to school funding.