"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

CTU Launches "Let Us Teach" Campaign

The Chicago Teachers Union Thursday urged its members and parents to take a stand against standardized tests.

CTU President Karen Lewis announced the “Let us Teach” campaign in Chicago as similar measures were rolled out in cities across the country.

“Why must our public school children be subjected to this battery of pointless standardized testing throughout the year, every year?,” Lewis said.

She said kids are made anxious, frustrated and depressed by the barrage of standardized tests given.
She called for an end of testing of children in the youngest grades.

“We object to the growing trend to mandate unproven standardized tests which are a major drain on classroom time, undermine education and stand in stark contrast to the proven student assessment tools of classroom teacher developed quizzes, exams, checklists and homework,” Lewis said.

Lewis was joined by three mothers who oppose standardized tests and who have opted their kids out of some testing. They urged other parents to do the same.

“Year after year, I have watched my child stress over testing,” said mom Nellie Cotton, who has a special education student at Grimes Elementary School. “Year after year, the stakes have only gotten higher and the intense pressure to attain the magic score continue to grow.”

Chicago Public Schools said it has cut back on standardized testing.

After months of meeting with students, parents, advocacy groups, the union and conducting focus groups, CPS announced in August that it was cutting back some of the standardized tests the district requires for students, especially for the younger ones.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett released a statement Thursday that extolled the decrease in testing.
“As a former teacher and principal, I felt that our parents and educators raised valid concerns around district-wide testing, and our collective work has resulted in 15 fewer tests this school year, adding valuable learning time to the school day to help ensure that every child graduates 100 percent college-ready and 100 percent college-bound.”

Kindergartners, first-graders and second-graders no longer have to take the NWEA MPG (Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress for Primary Grades) test in spring and fall, though their schools must choose from a list of assessments to monitor these primary students’ literacy. 

Second-graders will join third- through eighth-graders to take the NWEA MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test aligned to the Common Core curriculum in spring but no longer in the fall, too. Eighth graders also will skip the EXPLORE test given in preparation for the ACT in 11th grade. And ninth- through 11th-graders also will sit for the spring session of the EPAS (Explore, Plan, ACT) tests, skipping a fall session.

Most of the reductions come from eliminating fall testing sessions, and leaving spring ones in place.

Email: bschlikerman@suntimes.com

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