Teachers at Saucedo in Chicago refusing to hand out standardized test

“We are taking this step of civil disobedience because we love our children and students, and the unjust regime of over-testing and over-testing is inhumane…This is one step towards reclaiming humanity, and the joy of learning and education.”–  Saucedo teacher Sarah Chambers

The multibillion-dollar industry of high-stakes standardized testing is meeting roadblocks in Chicago.


Teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Chicago voted 100% by secret ballot to refuse to hand out the ISAT test to students Monday of next week.



The usefulness of this test seems to rest only in that it provides numbers for an Illinois school “report card” and it complies with the federal No Child Left Behind law which Illinois is seeking a waiver from.

There are no plans to use the Illinois Standards Achievement Test for grade promotion, school rankings, or admission to selective enrollment schools.

I frankly have never heard a non-lobbyist say anything positive about standardized testing. Yet the practice has steadily crept into educational systems to steal time from what could be the making of art or the telling of history or the playing of music. I applaud these teachers for taking a strong and courageous stand against wasteful and degrading conformism.

I confess to knowing little about the Illinois report card for schools.

I do know that the education committees of the WI senate and assembly recently gave serious discussion to legislation that would have closed a mandatory 5% of our public schools statewide by use of a letter grade report card every single year.

The sputtered out legislation would have sent students from the “failing” schools to private CMO’s or Charter Management Organizations. CMOS are operated by private corporations some of which employ military-style techniques a la KIPP.

Based on conversations I’ve had with a couple of people, it is more the conflict between voucher and charter lobbyists that put a halt to the WI “accountability” school grading legislation than it was the furor from public school advocates.


Illinois parents can have their children opt out of the ISAT and a group called Parents 4 Teachers says at least 1,000 parents have done so.

Wisconsin parents can learn about how to opt out of testing their children at United Opt Out National.

More info at Some CPS Teachers Boycotting ISAT from Chicago Tonight

Seattle had a semi-successful boycott of a test last year.

Some proof from MIT and Harvard that standardized testing “ain’t all that”: Even when test scores go up, some cognitive abilities don’t

Basic info. on where federal level standardized testing stands now from Fair Test:

“Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), each state set its own learning standards and developed tests to measure them. But NCLB’s failure to spur overall test score gains or close racial gaps led ‘reformers’ to push for national, or ‘common,’ standards. With millions in federal Race to the Top money and NCLB ‘waivers’ as incentives, all but a few states agreed to adopt Common Core standards.

[map of states with NCLB waivers. Note that Illinois has no waiver at the moment for bureaucratic reasons]

Two multi-state consortia — the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) — won federal grants to develop Common Core tests, which are due to be rolled out in 2014-15.”

Common Core is criticized by right and left wings alike but usually for unlike reasons. More on that is at Slate.




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