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ISAT Opt-Outs In Oak Park

What with the immigration marches, the 60s inspired walkouts, and all the rest, I just hadn't known that some students in Oak Park apparently hold their kids out of schools during ISAT testing but don't want them to miss a full two weeks of school. 

Does this happen in CPS anymore, I wonder -- I mean since those kids refused to take the CASE(?) back five or six years ago?  To what extent?

From PURE:

The following is a March 2006 letter from parents to local newspaper;
their decision to opt out of state standardized tests led to students
being denied access to school for two weeks

Children Denied Access to School is a District 97 Decision

There are some children in Oak Park District 97 that have been denied
access to their education at school for two weeks.

Our two daughters, 10 and 12 years old, have never participated in ISAT
testing. In previous years, during testing hours, we would simply keep
our children out of the school building. We would bring them back to
school during the hours when teachers were teaching and children were
learning. The former District 97 administration respected our rights, as
parents, to make this decision.

This year, District 97 administrators informed us and other parents
considering opting out of ISAT testing that our children would not be
allowed to attend school at any time during the two week "testing
window" when the ISATS are administered and the make-up tests are
offered. Two weeks out of school. The District claims this is the
State's policy and that they have no choice but to "follow the law". Dr.
Kevin Anderson, in last weeks Wednesday Journal, was quoted as saying
that the districts hands are tied.

Imagine our surprise when we received, last week, this email from the
legal department of the Illinois State Board of Education:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Gill,

Your email was forwarded to me for reply. You ask whether it is the
states intention that students should not be allowed back into school
for the remainder of the testing day or during the make-up window. There
is no intention on the part of ISBE to have students miss school unless
absolutely necessary. Having stated that, I encourage you to reconsider
your child/childrens participation in the state assessments.

Sincerely,

Renee Vilatte

Assistant Legal Advisor, ISBE

It is clear that the decision to deny access to school, during the hours
when teachers are teaching and children are learning, is a District 97
decision. We find it disheartening that the District would create such a
policy. We find it more disheartening that the District would hide
behind a supposed state mandate that does not exist.

We do not participate in ISAT testing precisely because we disagree with
the amount of time that is taken away from children's education to
satisfy the demands of ISAT testing and preparation. This time, taken
away from children's education, does not benefit the children. How can
we ask children to take true "ownership" of their education and work
when such emphasis is placed on an examination that offers benefits only
to the district bureaucracy?

It is disheartening that District 97 would keep our two children out of
school because we object to time taken away from education.
It is especially disheartening that District administrators would tell
parents of children with special needs, who contemplated keeping
children home during testing hours in order to protect them from
developmentally inappropriate practice, that they, too, must keep their
children out of school for two weeks if they chose not to participate in
ISATs. ( This practice was described in last weeks Wednesday Journal
article.) Again, this punitive policy was devised by administrators of
District 97, not anyone at the legal department of the Illinois State
Board of Education.

This dishonesty on the part of District 97 administrators makes it much
easier to explain to our children that being forced to miss two weeks of
school is a protest, not a punishment.

We ask that the District reconsider its policy for next year.

Jim and Sue Gill

Filed under: The World Outside CPS

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