CTU VP and family opt out of CPS high stakes testing.

CTU web site.

Joenile S. Albert-Reese
AN Pritzker School
2009 W. Schiller Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

January 15, 2013 

Dear Dr. Reese, 

We are writing to inform you that we are exercising our right to exempt our children from all non-state mandated tests for the current school year. This includes, but is not limited to: NWEA/MAP, REACH, DIBELS, and mCLASS. In addition, please do not place the grades, ISAT scores, or results of previous standardized tests of either of our children on display in the classroom, hallway, or other public place.

During whole class standardized testing we understand that our children will be provided with appropriate accommodations in order to engage in quiet, self-guided activity like silent reading, drawing, writing, or other appropriate activities so as to not disrupt the classroom in any way. 

We do not take this decision lightly given the high stakes attached to performance on these tests for everyone involved-our children, our school, and our teachers. Unfortunately we do not believe these tests to be in the best interests of our children’s education and cannot continue to allow them to participate.

We have become alarmed at the incredible increase in high stakes standardized testing at CPS. This year our kindergartener is scheduled to take fourteen standardized tests. Our fourth grader is scheduled for twenty-four tests, including the ISAT, which is spread over 8 sessions, and REACH assessments in PE, library, music and Spanish. It’s simply too much, and too much of a drain on scarce resources at our schools. 

These tests carry significant consequences for students, teachers and schools, and we see the effects of this. The curriculum becomes narrowed to cover what is on the tests. Teachers and students become stressed and demoralized. Ceaseless testing is driving out creativity, curiosity, and independent thinking.

We note that elite private schools have no use for standardized tests of any kind. They trust their teachers to assess students’ progress with authentic, multiple measures and intense attention given to each student. We are concerned that CPS is going in the opposite direction-towards larger classes with more standardized testing.  We also do not support a competitive culture around testing where prizes are given for results or students’ scores are posted in public (a clear violation of their privacy). 

We look forward to the time when our schools can nurture the natural inquisitiveness and love of learning all children should have instead of seeing them as data points on charts and spreadsheets. We are proud, grateful members of the Pritzker community. We look forward to many years of working together to improve our children’s education.

We are happy to discuss this matter further. 

Julie Fain and Jesse Sharkey


11 thoughts on “CTU VP and family opt out of CPS high stakes testing.

  1. Pritzker School? They name a school after the deplorable gazillionaire? Just a question, but his letter doesn’t request having his kids opt out of ISAT. Why not, I wonder? My wife and I are considering doing the same at our kids’ school, which has become a testing factor in a similar way.

    1. I looked into that (opting out of ISAT). From what I gather, it is a part of No Child (Bush) Left Behind, a mandate, and so teachers are forced to administer it, and thus your children are forced to take these tests. What I would like to see is a PARENT uprising. The teachers have done so much to get these issues out front. It’s time for us parents to take the torch.

  2. Try to get this report. The Reign of ETS: The corporation that makes up minds : the Ralph Nader report on the Educational Testing Service. There you will see how we got to where we are; Treating kids like fabricated parts coming out of a factory. They are tested for minimum quality standards. Many parts are marked defective (special ed) and rejected early in the fabrication process. We are moving more and more to an assembly line education system with little or no acknowledgment that we are working with humans. Nader’s book traces the historical path that all this came from. A path based on the belief that there are individuals who are unteachable due to their racial and ethnic background. The denial of that belief generates the strong reactions that testing organizations have anytime the question of prejudice or racism is raised concerning the fairness of a particular test. What you rarely see as a defense to such an accusation are the concepts of validity and reliability. Basically a test tests what it says it tests and does it consistently. A perfect score is 1 (no such test) so the closer to 1 the better the test. Most tests that people see as acceptable are above .50 and way below .99 on that 1.00 scale. If you want a simple explanation see this: http://www.uni.edu/chfasoa/reliabilityandvalidity.htm Sorry for such a long post but testing pisses me off because it is the quickest way to rob ourselves of our humanity and we do it so willingly to ourselves.

  3. Mr. Sharkey should try to get his kid accepted into a better school. Pritzker is not a place where I would send my kid if I had other options.

  4. While I support non-participation in high-stakes testing, DIBELS is not high stakes test, but a diagnostic tool that takes about one minute to administer individually if used properly. Curriculum based measures like DIBELS help inform instruction for basic skills.

  5. What a great letter! And …It helps to “control the narrative”…So when I show up in Wilmette with friends on Monday to see Biss…I hope the meeting agenda will be dominated by topics that Teachers control…Restructuring the tax code in Illinois”…the chart you put up on your blog that shows of how the super wealthy don’t pay much….and how Illinois compares to other “liveable states” is key…also the Super Wealthy do not live in Biss’s district for the most part…and they will not be in the audience…Who will be there are furious folks who make $200,000 ..Also the chart of liability on the back of the tax bill should be done by yearly unfunded costs (not 40 years)….I remember that even Lake Forest had a yearly breakdown of only 20 million…but this set of figures has been slow to reach the news….I wonder what time the building will open as I can see Biss having a pre-meeting at six o’clock to fill the seats

  6. For my daughter, her high score on the DIBELS meant never being properly instructed in reading for the remainder of the school year. Instead, the focus of reading instruction was the students who received the lower scores, all in the effort to meet RTI protocol. Make no mistake, the DIBELS test is dangerous tool given the ever growing demands placed on teachers to bring the “lower scoring” students to “higher levels” of “performance”. Here’s an idea, how about actually teaching reading???

  7. No one’s kids should go to Pritzker if they prevent help it. It’s filthy, the cafeteria and food is disgusting, the staffing is a constant merry go round, the equipment is dilapidated, and the gifted center is a joke.

  8. Thank you, parents. This is important. Get the kids back to a learning situation, and leave the tests and their supporters on the street.

    Mike Reed

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