Students at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were scheduled to take the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) last week, but some did not participate. There were teachers and parents who were not in agreement with students taking the two-day examination, which caused quite a stir in several Chicago schools according to Barbara Byrd-Bennett of Chicago CBSChannel 2.
Sarah Chambers of the Chicago Teachers Union was one of those who opposed the testing.
"The Chicago Teachers Union has said students are forced to take too many standardized tests, and the ISAT exam is unnecessary, given that it no longer factors into student promotion, graduation, or enrollment in selective-enrollment schools," Chambers said. "There are too many tests. It's not just the ISAT. The students are over-tested, they get anxiety."
A group of parents is against the number of standardized test that are given to CPS students, because of the time it takes away from classroom teaching. The State Department of Education told CPS that giving and taking the test was a federal and state mandate and not administering the ISAT could result in the loss of federal and state funding. The types of funding which might be affected includes monies for low-income children.
CPS said that the Illinois State Department of Education informed them that children must be presented with the test and could expect disciplinary actions if they were not.
Unfortunately, there were students who felt the crunch of doing what their parents told them, but feeling confused that they would be not taking the test against the wishes of most of their teachers and administrators. Byrd-Bennett reported that there were students who felt they were being singled out by teachers for not taking the test.
"The results of the ISAT also helps parents and teachers across the state assess how well their students are meeting key benchmarks in core academic subjects and assists educators in tailoring instructional planning," CPS spokesman Joel Hood said in a statement.
Next year, the ISAT will be replaced by another standardized test which will assess grade promotions and will measure a student's qualifications for specialized schools. Still many teachers feel that standardized testing is not the way valuable classroom instruction time should be used.
"I'm not against standardized testing," said Michael Flynn, a CPS elementary school teacher said. "I'm against 20 different assessments a year, because we're going to spend two weeks on a meaningless test."
Flynn said he'd rather use the time to prepare students for a meaningful exam, such as the one used to determine which high schools students are eligible to attend.
A trio ofreporters at the Chicago Sun-Times, posited that CPS lost the scuffle over the administering of the ISAT. In the end, teachers at one elementary school who did not give the test were allowed to teach students who opted out of taking the ISAT.
The debate concerning standardized testing is far from being over. Some states have asked for and received waivers allowing them to not give standardized tests. Others educators insist that standardized testing is the best way to measure students' yearly achievement.