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Teacher exposes Board's ridiculous testing policy, notes MAP has been panned by Arne Duncan and Dept. of Education

by Substance News  |  01/30/2013

ILLUSTRATION: Anne Carlson by George SchmidtGood afternoon! My name is Anne Carlson. I am a parent of three children, two of whom attend a CPS school. I am a teacher at Drummond Montessori School where I teach 4th, 5th and 6th graders in a self-contained classroom. I have 31 students. 

I am also a mandated reporter and today I want to report the child abuse that is occurring in our schools. It is called excessive, high-stakes standardized testing.

Why am I calling this abuse? Here's why. 

  1. Some kindergarten students are taking up to 14 tests per year. This is criminal. At this age, children should be listening to read-alouds of books like “Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats, not sitting in front of a computer screen.
  2. K-2 teachers have cut guided reading groups from their schedules because there simply isn't enough time to instruct with all of the assessments. At these grades, most tests are given one-to-one with the teacher, which amounts to a lot of lost instructional time. 
  3. The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test is administered on computers. During the testing window, other students are not able to visit the lab to complete research projects. There is a wide range of how long students take this test because it is computer-adaptive. One of my students took 225 minutes to complete the initial test. Yes, 225 minutes to complete it over several days. Think about all of the instructional time lost.
  4. There is a wide disparity among CPS schools in terms of how much testing is being delivered. I teach at a Level I school so we are only administering the mandated tests. However, for Level 3 schools, even the optional tests are mandatory. So the word “optional” is just a carrot on a stick and doesn't follow the true definition from Webster's: "involving an option, not compulsory.” 
  5. I am passing out to each of you a new report signed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former CEO of CPS. Here's the punch-line: “Overall the MAP program did not have a statistically significant impact on student reading achievement in either grade 4 or grade 5.” The brave teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle who boycotted the MAP test this month did so because the test is useless at the high school level. Now Arne Duncan himself has confirmed that it is useless in elementary as well.
  6. Speaking of Duncan, let's not forget a very important decision made during his term. In December 2002, this Board decided to eliminate the CASE test because there were so many problems with it. We can learn from history. I call on you to do so, and to end the child abuse I've just described. 

Thank you for your time and attention.

Chicago Teachers Union