CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union is urging the Illinois State Board of Education to suspend all standardized tests for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year in the wake of state-wide school closures to slow down community transmission of COVID-19.
The Union is also calling on ISBE to adjust statutory graduation requirements for the current school year so no student is held back a grade level or prevented from graduating because of the disruption to the academic year caused by COVID-19 school closures.
“The Governor and ISBE have shown real leadership during this crisis,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. “This proposed move by ISBE would build on the State’s commitment to protect our students from the harm of this pandemic and support their educational needs.”
CTU officers sent their proposals in a letter to ISBE superintendent Carmen Ayala and Deputy Governor for Education Jesse Ruiz on Monday. The union’s proposals dovetail with calls from governors across the country to the U.S. Department of Education to waive all federal testing requirements, and a national letter-writing campaign by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to #ShutDownTheTest.
“The glaring racial inequities latent in the current standardized testing scheme will be compounded if the tests are administered to students as scheduled this year,” wrote Sharkey in the letter. “As is so often the case with public crises, our most vulnerable students, especially in Black and Brown communities on the South and West sides of Chicago, will suffer the direst effects of COVID-19 school closures. Theirs will be the families under the most economic duress during this crisis, and they will be least likely to have access to distance learning resources. Justice and equity demands that they not be subjected to standardized tests when their schools re-open, too.”
Forcing students to take standardized tests in the wake of mass school closures makes no sense. High-stakes testing requirements during this unprecedented pandemic undermine real learning in schools once students return by forcing teachers to ‘teach to the test’ rather than allowing educators to help students get back on track educationally. Instead, states and the federal government should put student needs first by reducing, rather than exacerbating the burden of stress on students that every high-stakes test creates.