EXCLUSIVE: With ISATs Delayed, CPS Chooses Fairness Over Security

Testing is supposed to start next week, but some as yet unknown number of of the ISAT booklets are late coming from Harcourt.  In response, CPS has decided to let all schools -- even the ones that already have their tests -- take an extra week (until the 20th) to start testing, at the risk of letting some schools have an awful long time with the test booklets in the buliding. 

Fairness, or security -- it's a tough call.  Assuming a substantial
number of schools already have their test materials, however, I think I would do
everything to preserve test security and public confidence in the tests
rather than doing everything to preserve fairness among schools.  What's a week's difference in instruction for some subset of schools compared to overall public confidence in the testing regimen?

This is supposed to be the week before the new ISATs are
administered, and even without any unexpected hiccups it would be an
anxious time for all involved.  It's a new version of the test being
offered in all grades which means new cut scores etc., it's the first
year that there's no ITBS to use for retention and promotion decisions
or to show that CPS is making progress.  It's the ten-year anniversary
of Mayor Daley's takeover of the school system.  You get the idea.

Now, word is has gotten out that there's going to
be a little more drama than expected.  First off, the test is late in
arriving from the publisher Harcourt -- ISBE is holding a press
conference Thursday AM to reveal this "update the status of ... ISBE's contract with Harcourt Assessment Inc." 

In response -- this is the exclusive part -- CPS has announced that, because of the delay, schools don't have to administer the test next week, even if they have them in the building.     This means that either some kids will have
more instruction than others before taking the tests, and that
some teachers and administrators will have way too much time to see
what's on the tests and do some extra "special" test preparation
beforehand. 

On one hand, it's arguably unfair to make some schools take the tests and let others go an extra week.  On the other hand, there's long been chatter about some schools and teachers using the
last few days before the testing begins -- or even the days during the
testing period -- to help prepare kids for what they're going to get on
crucial parts of the test, based on what they've seen in the boxes.
This year, there might just be a lot more time for some of them to do
it.

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