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PENCILS DOWN: CTU, Parents Join Anti-Testing Movement; Will Circulate Petitions

ILLUSTRATION: Testing horizontalCHICAGO—As part of its “Pencils Down” campaign against high-stakes standardized testing, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), will be among 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 Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test.  The coalition will petition local schools to limit Chicago Public School (CPS) support for excessive standardized testing of students as part of a national day of action to support the Seattle MAP test boycott.

Organized by the “More Than a Score Coalition,” which includes the CTU, Parents 4 Teachers, Parents United for Responsible Education and Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education, petitions will be circulated today at several CPS elementary schools and high schools asking CPS and the Chicago Board of Education to limit standardized testing and provide more transparency about the cost, amount and stakes of the 22 tests now being used in CPS.

The petition was written by parents and other concerned citizens who are frustrated with the scale, expense and consequences of the testing regime in CPS and who do not feel that the Board of Education is addressing their concerns.

“Some kindergarten students are taking up to 14 tests per year,” said Anne Carlson, teacher, CPS parent and co-chair of the CTU Testing Committee to the Board at its Jan. 23 meeting. “This is criminal.”

The CTU Testing Committee is organized against the misuse of testing and supports groups of teachers who want to challenge the tests at the school, network, or district level. The committee is developing a “tool kit” of resources and action ideas to be distributed in addition to “More Than a Score’s” advocacy for:

  • The elimination of standardized testing for Pre-K to 2nd graders
  • The reduction of testing for older grades
  • Ending the use of standardized testing to evaluate students, teachers, and schools
  • Full disclosure of the cost, schedule, nature and purpose of all standardized tests

“The culture of testing at our school creates a sense of stress and competition,” said Hannah Nolan-Spohn, a 5th grade language arts and social studies teacher at Deneen Elementary. “There is a lot of comparing scores, gossiping among students about who got what score, and stress around whether or not they grew enough.”

“We no longer teach—we just give assessments,” said kindergarten teacher Nancy Ocampo. “I do want to have my students exit kindergarten reading and with number knowledge, but more importantly, with a love for school and a love of learning.”

“That is the kind of school all of our kids deserve, not a testing factory,” Ocampo said.

The More Than a Score petitioning is Wednesday morning and afternoon at 34 area elementary schools and high schools, including confirmed times at the following schools:

Kenwood Academy
5015 S. Blackstone Ave.
7:30 a.m.

Mark Sheridan Math & Science Academy
533 W. 27th St.
7:40-8 a.m.; 2:20-3 p.m.          

Ray Elementary School                              
5631 S. Kimbark Ave.                                
8:15 a.m.         

A.N. Pritzker School
2009 W. Schiller St.
3:45 p.m.                                    

For more information on the CTU’s “Pencils Down” campaign and the movement against high-stakes standardized testing in Chicago Public Schools, visit www.ctunet.com and www.morethanascorechicago.org.

Chicago Teachers Union