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Testing

CTU members in CPS district-run schools have the opportunity to recover instructional time by eliminating excessive tests at their school.

Assessment Vote

Download the two-page Assessment Know Your Rights flyer.

Further below, you can find step-by-step instructions on the assessment vote process.

Don’t let CPS push their tests on you and your students!

CPS has a plan to dramatically increase mandated assessments, to the detriment of students and teachers. Our CTU contract gives us a powerful tool to resist: VOTE NO!

Our contract requires a vote on any assessments not mandated at the local, state or federal level. CPS wants to add new common classroom assessments and three-times-a-year screening and interim assessments. VOTE NO on these tests!!

Some tests are mandatory at the state (IAR, P/SAT, ISA, KIDS), federal (NAEP), or local level (REACH PT), or for certain populations (ACCESS, DLM), or certain classes (IB). Those tests should not appear on the testing ballot.

No other tests can be mandated without your agreement! Not PSAT in 8th grade, I-Ready, Checkpoint, ANET, NWEA MAP, Dibels TRC, Star 360 (math, reading, Spanish, CMB, Custom), Compass, Fountas and Pinnell, or Aimsweb! All of these tests should be voted down!

Help us get the message to CPS by taking a short survey on your opinions of various CPS-promoted tests.

Survey

Ready and Star 360 data will be used to tier students centrally within the Branching Minds Program, thereby eliminating local control over tiers, creating excessive paperwork, and allowing the district to rank and sort students for punitive purposes.

CPS is pushing principals to lobby for a yes vote on their testing plan by engaging teams like ILT “early and often”, by emphasizing “CPS values and district priorities”, with “conversations regarding special needs and consideration for the … SY23 budget”, and by anticipating challenges and gathering input from the Network Team. Don’t fall for their tricks! VOTE NO!

Classroom assessments should be the choice of the teacher. One size does not fit all when it comes to measuring what our students are learning. CPS is pushing assessments associated with the Skyline Curriculum, even for teachers not using that curriculum. VOTE NO on uniform classroom assessments!!

CPS is introducing new three-times-a-year benchmark assessments, including the computer-adaptive I-Ready for children in grades K-2. This test has not been piloted, teachers have not been trained on it, and CPS has not provided evidence of its effectiveness. This is the kind of test that pushes teachers of young students to de-prioritize the very important social-emotional centering and executive functioning development these children need. The one-size-fits no one benchmarks are harmful for grades 3-8 as well. Let educators decide what’s important to teach and not pressure us to “teach to the test”. They are pushing for PSAT in 8th grade, when students already will take it in 9th grade. VOTE NO on benchmark assessments.

CPS will pay for these tests–they don’t have to come out of the school budget. How about if, instead, they paid for what we need: more planning time, more clinicians, smaller class sizes! VOTE NO!

Stand up for yourselves and your students! VOTE NO on additional tests!

The Purpose of Testing

As educators, we know that formal assessments can be a useful tool to help us know how/when to present or re-teach materials. We also know it is just one of many tools that can be useful in determining who needs additional help in what areas. Parents want to know if their child is learning what’s being taught and developing the skills they will need; they want to know if their child needs additional help and support.

Districts and school boards use these tests for other purposes: to stratify schools, blame teachers and parents and to categorize as failing the schools in Black and Brown communities that they have deprived of adequate and equitable resources for decades. Additionally, they use standardized testing to narrow the curriculum, eliminating time for educator creativity by mandating excessive ‘drill and kill’, and discouraging the development of a culturally sustaining curriculum. We encourage educators to teach a rich and varied curriculum, using a wide variety of assessments including creative projects, presentations, and other assessments that capture what students have learned.

Work Together to Plan for Your School

This has been far from a regular year. The pandemic created a myriad of problems and CPS’ response created even more. More than ever, the last thing our students need is to spend next year being taught to the test and cramming every possible assessment into their schedules. There are certain required assessments, but faculty have a right to vote on any optional assessments their school will administer. You are the professional who knows your students and their needs. Decide as a group how to push back.. Do not let pressure from the principal or network to add unnecessary non-mandated assessments take away from the teaching time you know your students need.

CPS Draft Assessment Calendar

Important! CPS wants to pressure schools to adopt unnecessary tests by marking them “Recommended” in their Assessment Calendar. If a test does not say “Required” then it is extra! The Union strongly opposes extra testing because it wastes instructional time and undermines your professional judgement and that of your colleagues. Even if you think a test might have some use for you, don’t undermine the professional autonomy of your colleagues by forcing them to administer an unnecessary test.

Draft CPS Assessment Calendar

Step-by-step timeline for assessment voting

As Soon as Possible

  1. Hold a Union Meeting with your staff. Discuss which assessments are required and get their input on whether any additional assessments should be considered. Please keep in mind what our students (and teachers) have been through and think carefully before recommending any added testing, especially at this time.
  2. Principal must meet and collaborate with faculty to develop the Plan. This includes meeting with the PPC to discuss and get input on a draft plan for assessment or a decision not to add any more tests. Remember, CPS is telling principals to push additional tests.

No later than 5/20/22

  1. Principal presents proposed assessment plan to school staff as a whole for their consideration. Discussions may also take place in grade bands, with diverse learner teachers and among subject area teachers. The Plan must be presented a minimum of one week prior to the vote.

No later than 5/27/22 and at least one week after presentation to staff

  1. The Principal or designee will conduct a secret ballot vote on the assessment plan that was presented. Organize the teaching staff to vote NO. The Plan is approved if a majority of those who vote support it. Only teachers vote. With a unanimous vote the PPC may authorize a particular subject area or grade level/band to conduct a yes-no vote for or against using a particular non-required assessment that is not being proposed for school-wide use.

Following the vote

  1. Schools whose plans pass notify the Department of Student Assessment using the SY22 Assessment Plan Submission Form by 6/1/22. If the assessment vote does not pass, the Network Chief and or Assessment team will meet with teachers to try to pressure them into voting for more tests. Don’t give into pressure to add additional burdens on your students.

No later than 6/10/22

  1. If an alternative Plan cannot be reached, and no Plan has been agreed upon, either side may submit the issue to Strategic Bargaining for resolution.

What assessments are required?

Article 44-32.1 states that the Board shall publish an assessment calendar which shall consist of assessments mandated by the district. The district has failed to provide the assessment calendar which is required before the vote can take place.

Under contract article 44-32, CPS can only require tests that are mandated by state or federal law, REACH tests, and tests required for particular programs (e.g., IB). Mandated tests include IAR, REACH Performance Tasks, KIDS, PSAT (grades 9 and 10), SAT (grade 11), NAEP, Illinois Science Assessment, ACCESS for English Language Learners, Dynamic Learning Maps Alternative Assessment, and IB Assessments.

What assessments are optional?

PSAT in 8th grade, I-Ready, Checkpoint, ANET, NWEA MAP, Dibels TRC, Star 360 (math, reading, Spanish, CMB, Custom), Compass, Fountas and Pinnell, and Aimsweb are among the assessments that are not mandated.

What Can Parents Do?

Parents/guardians have the ultimate control over the tests their children take. They have a right to opt-out their students from any/all of the standardized tests. This must be done in writing. The child also needs to refuse the test/test prep when offered. The child can do this in writing or verbally. The school is responsible for providing an alternative educational activity for the student during both test preparation and actual testing. As teachers, we can and should make sure that parents know their rights. How can we safely do this? We can communicate on our own time, off school property, and not using school email or equipment.. While we must be sure not to pressure parents to ‘opt out’ their children, we can make it clear to them that they have the right to refuse standardized testing for their children..

Remember: You are the professionals! You know your students and their needs better than anyone downtown does. Have confidence in what you know will be best for them. Don’t let admins pressure you to add assessments you know will take away valuable teaching time and won’t benefit your students.

Forms & Resources

Assessment Vote Guide
Flowchart of Asssessment Decisions
Draft CPS Assessment Calendar

CPS Universal Screening Diagnostic Progress Monitoring

CAUTION: CPS is, as usual, trying to push more testing and assessment. Please make sure you look closely at the “REQUIRED” column. Most of what they are encouraging is not required. We know endless testing is not good for kids in the best of times. These have certainly not been the best of times. Please encourage your colleagues not to add optional assessments, benchmarks, screenings etc. We need time to teach. Your admin may pressure you and they may be pressured by their Networks. You are the experts; you know what is best for your students. Have confidence in your judgment and reach out to your colleagues to discuss before voting on any assessment plan that adds additional test that are not required.

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