PARENT-SUPPORTED STUDENT REBELLION AGAINST STANDARDIZED TESTS IS SPREADING, ACROSS THE COUNTRY, WITH BIG MOBILIZATION IN CHICAGO
A Boycott Is Happening in Chicago—And This Time It Isn’t Teachers
Students in Chicago have had enough with their school system.
A group called Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools boycotted the state-mandated test, PSAE, on Wednesday and protested citywide. Like many people against standardized testing, the students, which numbered in the hundreds, have had enough with test taking.
But their objections, however, go further.
They are also fed up with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the public school system’s leaders in their attempts to shutter 54 school programs and 61 school buildings, mostly in underprivileged and minority neighborhoods.
Brian Sturgis, a senior at Chicago’s Paul Robeson High School and an organizer of the boycott, wrote in an Education Week blog, “Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Board of Education are supposed to make the CPS system work for all of us. But instead they are putting too much pressure on standardized testing and threatening to close schools that don't have high test scores. When schools are under so much pressure to raise test scores it leads to low-scoring students being neglected, not supported.”
The protestors posted frequently on social media to keep people updated on their activities. Their Twitter feed shows a picture of students lined up, arms interlocked, in front of school. One student held a sign that said, “The best way to learn is by taking a test—No child ever said.”
The students’ activities haven’t sat well with administrators.
Earlier this week, the school district made robocalls to students’ parents, warning how important the test results are to a their children’s academic future.
Every student must take at least one day of the two-day exam to be promoted to 12th grade and graduate. The second part of the test, given on Wednesday, included science, math and reading. This part, in turn, gives a career-readiness certificate endorsed by employers to students.
Of course, as is the norm in America’s classrooms, the tests are also used to help evaluate each school and teacher.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the Chicago Public Schools CEO said on Wednesday, “The only place that students should be during the school day is in the classroom with their teachers getting the education they need to be successful in life. Today's PSAE is one of the most critical exams our students will take. Every adult should support and encourage our students to make sure they are in school.”
Mark Naison, a Fordham University academic who monitors educational movements in the United States, compared the Chicago protest to the student lunch counter sit-ins that began in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960.
“In both instances, you had a situation that many people thought was outrageous—and yes, many people do think the level of testing in schools has become so intrusive and counterproductive that it is national tragedy—but people in elected office seemed unable to change, so young people decided to take history into their own hands,” he said. “I would not be surprised to see these walkouts and boycotts multiply next year.”
Last week, New York parents, teachers, and students participated in a similar protest when students decidedly opted out of tests administered by the state of New York. An overabundance of testing has, according to critics, contributed to a rise in cheating by teachers and administrators, a segregation of students based on test scores, high teacher turnover, and the decrease of classes that teach enrichment, such as the arts.
Some see these protests as a last resort to help students and teachers in a broken system with few benefits.
Shaun Johnson, a Maryland-based teacher educator, former public school teacher, and blogger for At the Chalk Face, feels that while a boycott to prevent data from being collected may not be the most effective tool, it's perhaps all we have left.
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist whose work frequently appears in The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor. She is the author of two books.@SuziParker | TakePart.com
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The Opt Out Update: Protests planned in Chicago and Colorado this week as the Opt Out Movement continues to grow and Louisiana opts out of the Common Core Standards
Bush, Obama focus on standardized testing leads to ‘opt-out’ parents’ movement
A decade into the school accountability movement, pockets of resistance to standardized testing are sprouting up around the country, with parents and students opting out of the high-stakes tests used to evaluate schools and teachers.
From Seattle, where 600 high school students refused to take a standardized test in January, to Texas, where 86 percent of school districts say the tests are “strangling our public schools,” anti-testing groups argue that bubble exams have proliferated beyond reason, delivering more angst than benefits.
“Over the last couple of years, they’ve turned this one test into the all and everything,” said Cindy Hamilton, a 50-year-old mother of three in Florida who founded Opt Out Orlando in response to the annual Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which starts again Monday. Her group is one of dozens of new organizations opposed to such testing.
The opt-out movement is nascent but growing, propelled by parents, students and some educators using social media to swap tips on ways to spurn the tests. They argue that the exams cause stress for young children, narrow classroom curricula, and, in the worst scenarios, have led to cheating because of the stakes involved — teacher compensation and job security.
To read this article in full, go to the the Washington Post. ["Bush, Obama focus on standardized testing leads to ‘opt-out’ parents’ movement," April 14]