Big organizing victory: ISBE dropping plan to expand state testing!

Yesterday at the May IL State Board of Ed meeting, State Superintendent Ayala made a major announcement: ISBE will not be pursuing their proposal to expand state testing that was first announced last spring.

The Superintendent said ISBE is dropping that plan and instead "will reconsider changing the end-of-year exam once schools return to normalcy after the pandemic." 

Chalkbeat Chicago Illinois board of education decides not to change state assessment

IL-FPS took a leading role in this campaign, and the announcement comes after a full year of working with parents, teachers, researchers, & advocates organizing in opposition to the $228 million proposal that would have replaced the annual IAR with three-times-a-year testing for 3rd to 8th grade, and added three-times-a-year interim testing funded by the state for K-2nd too. This plan was hatched despite extensive research that interim testing doesn’t have academic outcome benefits—and likely does harm—and that standardized testing isn’t valid and reliable before age 8.

What did we do to push back against this misguided proposal? Working with our coalition partners, we: 

  • Spoke at more than seven ISBE board and committee meetings in the last twelve months; 
  • Created a webinar to inform families and educators of the plan and a convening of national assessment experts along with IL teachers and students to explore what authentic assessment looks like;
  • Held a legislative briefing for state reps and senators;
  • Coordinated a letter from 37 state legislators in December to ISBE asking them to put a hold on the proposal;
  • Delivered a petition to ISBE to oppose state testing in K-2, signed by over 1000 Illinois parents, educators and public school supporters across 150 different municipalities in Illinois;
  • Worked with Sen Cristina Pacione-Zayas and Rep Lindsey LaPointe to introduce and pass the Too Young To Test bill—now Public Act 102-0875—in the General Assembly, legislation that has now put safeguards into our state school code to prevent state standardized testing from encroaching into grades two and below. This bill was drafted by our director Cassie Creswell and assistant director Samay Gheewala.

Thank you to everyone who has been pitching in on this effort—signing the petition, making calls, sharing info on social media, speaking to press. This is a huge organizing victory, and we couldn’t have done it without you!

All that said, we agree with the original motivation behind the proposal: the state assessment system and the Illinois Assessment of Readiness do need to be improved, as the coalition has been calling for all along. 

We’d like to see the State Board now go back to the drawing board and keep working (1) to minimize the negative impact that federal testing requirements inflict on Illinois’ students, teachers and schools and, (2) to concentrate the state’s assessment efforts on supporting high-quality assessment at the district, school and classroom level. By high-quality we mean assessments that build on students’ own cultures, knowledge, and experiences; encourage them to use what they learn in school to solve real world problems that impact them; and are integrated into class time and curriculum so students get timely and relevant feedback from their teachers and each other to deepen their learning. 

Let us know if this is an issue that you want to jump in and get involved with. You can email us at [email protected]. Also make sure you are signed up on the Teach Not Test coalition mailing list and our standardized testing campaign page. Please also donate today to help us keep this work going!