Should Parents Opt Out Of Testing?

Should Parents Opt Out Of Testing?

CPS doesn't want parents to opt their kids out of standardized tests this year, but the letter they sent home to parents about the topic led anti-testing groups to issue a release and from that come stories from Catalyst and the Tribune.  What do you think about parents opting kids out, classroom teachers and parents? National news includes a new regulation from the Obama administration that will allow charters to use weighted lotteries to promote or preserve student diversity (instead of being limited to a single unweighted lottery).


CPS chief's letter makes some parents testy Tribune: A letter to parents and guardians from Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett appears to indicate that students who opt out of a new districtwide assessment test in the spring will not be eligible to pass certain grades or to get into selective enrollment high schools, angering some parents.

Battle heating up against high-stakes tests Catalyst: In a swift counter-move, parent groups that oppose high-stakes testing said the letters indicate that CPS leaders are worried about a growing resistance to standardized tests, with some parents saying their children spend too much class time on too many tests, with serious consequences tied to their outcome. The Chicago Teachers Union joined in also, calling for a boycott of the ISAT this year.


Teachers union forges coalition with public-sector unions to fight ‘pension heist’ Sun Times: “We have been in negotiations with [Chicago Public Schools] for two years trying to figure out a way to do this and it’s always been clear to me they didn’t really want to solve the problem,” CTU President Karen Lewis said Wednesday.

Teachers union vows to fight pension cuts Tribune: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said Wednesday that negotiations over a pension overhaul with the school district are at a stalemate, and her members are ready to aggressively fight proposed cuts to their retirement benefits.


Charter Expansion Could Lead to Teaching Creationism, Karen Lewis Says DNAI: Teachers Union President Karen Lewis says that state-approved charters pose a threat to academics.

Youth Shootings Are Down! Second City Cop: Notice they use "school year" as a measure. And they only are looking at "youths."  And then there's something else that might have had an effect on shootings.....what could it be again?

Hadiya Pendleton’s Family, Former Classmates Remember Slain Teen DNAI: King College Prep students and teachers read poems and sang songs to remember their slain classmate.


Education Dept. allows public charter schools to hold weighted lottery Washington Post: The Education Department on Wednesday reversed a long-standing policy and will now allow public charter schools that receive federal grants to give admissions preference to low-income children, minorities and other disadvantaged students.

Under pressure, feds will fund charter schools with admissions preferences ChalkbeatNY: The regulatory change followed concerted lobbying by Moskowitz, other charter school advocates, and officials from New York and other states, who worked to ease federal authorities’ concerns that weighted lotteries could be used to create racially segregated schools in addition to diverse ones.

Early Education Spending By The Feds Has Not Really Risen Since Obama Took Office HuffPost: The 2009 spending hit a high of $32.6 billion, but the real tale lies in the comparison between the 2008 and 2013 figures: $20.7 billion then and only slightly higher at $21.5 billion last year.

Video: Lawmaker 'stunned' at gaps in school abuse reporting NBC: Rep. George Miller of California says a new GAO report points out important gaps in the nation's systems for reporting child abuse by school personnel.

High Schoolers Hit The Slopes, And The Books, At Team Academy NPR: Elite athletes start their sports young and sometimes sacrifice academics; some even drop out of high school. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association says it wants to prevent that by opening its own high school. But no mistake: Academics there aren't as important as winning.


New suspension data show drop in use of ‘willful defiance,’ but ethnic disparity remains EdSource: The category of willful defiance of school authorities, which also includes disruption of school activities, accounted for 43 percent of all suspensions statewide in 2012-13, down from 48 percent the previous year.

Veteran Educators Tapped for Top Roles Running NYC Schools WNYC: Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña on Wednesday promoted two longtime, local educators as deputy chancellors of the Department of Education, in a move she said signaled a new tone. All of the new appointments have about 30 years of experience -- each -- working in the school system.



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  • Parents and students interested in opting out, please check out More Than A Score ( We have sample and form opt out letters, resources on how CPS's overuse and misuse of standardized testing are hurting our children and our schools, etc. We are happy to answer questions and meet with parents.

    Despite their announcement of reduced standardized testing last summer, CPS has, if anything, increased testing this year for most children and, perhaps more importantly, done nothing to reduce the stakes tied to single test administrations.

    A child with straight As can be sent to summer school (and then at the end of the summer held back a grade) based only on their score on a standardized test. This is a crazy policy.

    A great read for people who are opt-out curious is a recent post on the New Yorker website explaining why the opt out has really taken hold in NYC:

  • Obviously, testing volume varies school 2 school. My experience is much less testing in the last 2 school years. The MAPS test is so valuable and rich in information that I am grateful my kids take it twice per year. I wish there was a mid year MAPS too.

    From the BBB letter to parents, I glean that ISAT is required from a US Government standpoint for NCLB. CPS could be punished in those measurements and corresponding funding if it boycotted ISAT. Big Govt verses state control issue that makes our democracy wonderfully messy. How will the scores change with more alignment to Common Core?

    I am in full support for parents who want to opt out. It is a personal family decision. In the world of my family and children I am fine with the testing schedule in place and have no need for my kids to sit and do nothing while others are taking a test that will provide useful information on how they are learning.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    thanks for this reasonable take on the situation

  • from ILRYH

    The ISAT will not be used for selective enrollment admission for 7th graders or lower grades this year:

    You can confirm that here:

    The NWEA has replaced the ISAT to determine school rating (levels) for next year, promotion policy and SE admission. BBB in her letter to parents acknowledged the right to opt out of all tests but said that NWEA must be taken for grade promotion and SE admission. She discouraged parents from opting their kids out of ISAT because it counts toward Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and may inform schools how their kids will do on other tests that will be used next year.

    FYI, 66% of schools in IL didn’t make AYP last year. This is not a measure that goes into a school's rating for the level system.

    Catalyst article:

    Learn more about this at the More than a Score Forum next Thursday, 3/6

    What’s up with Standardized Testing at CPS?

    Haas Park, Logan Square: 6:30pm

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