Spring tests not suspended | Witness slip time for new ed bills | and more

Despite pleas for state testing waivers this year, Biden administration says tests will go on - with some flexibility

The IL State Board of Ed joined many other states in requesting a waiver for giving state tests this year. This came after over 600 Superintendents in IL, led by Tony Sanders of U-46 Elgin organized the mass effort to inform ISBE and the US Dept of Ed that there should be a pause in testing.  

IL-FPS joined FairTest and many orgs in sending a petition to the US Dept of Ed with over 11,000 signatures to suspend testing. It will be a logistical nightmare to test kids for a multitude of reasons this year, including getting devices sanitized and back in schools, administering tests to kids in two different locations for schools doing hybrid learning, ensuring privacy protections for kids who would test at home, and more. 

In addition, after a brutal year of suffering through a pandemic, more than ever children need the opportunity for re-engagement that focuses on their well-being—addressing their social-emotional and health needs is a prerequisite to academic learning. A week of standardized testing is not going to engage kids and get them back in the swing of learning.

Nonetheless, the US Dept of Ed has said the tests must go on, but they are allowing states to apply for waivers for:

  • Timing: summer or fall rather than before the end of the 2020-2021 school year;
  • Length: tests can be shorter the normal;
  • Accountability measures: States could not assign ratings to schools.

We will get back to you with any action items regarding pushing ISBE to apply for all of the above. If Illinois isn’t going to suspend testing, we’ll be supporting families who want their children to refuse testing. 

Washington Post: One month in, Biden angers supporters who wanted him to curb standardized testing

Education Week Biden’s Testing Stance Leaves States Tough Choices. Some May Still Try to Avoid Exams


Culturally Responsive Teaching Standards in IL make it through JCAR

Thanks to everyone who submitted a comment to JCAR on the Culturally Responsive  Teaching and Leading Standards. They passed in the JCAR committee and will be implemented in teacher prep programs by 2025.

Capitol News Illinois Panel approves ‘culturally responsive’ teaching standards


Education bills are being heard this week virtually

There’s finally some action in the General Assembly after a year of mostly pandemic quiet.  Do you want to be an advocate for pro-public education bills with us this year? Do you want to get information on actions around the continued push for an elected school board?  Take our survey if you haven’t already, and we’ll send you more detailed updates of actions ahead.

Also, a reminder we are having a two part training on how to be an advocate during the zoom era Sunday March 14th! This should be a great session providing unique insight by our esteemed trainer, Don Washington. Sign up here.

Also, there’s an ERSB action tomorrow (Wed. 3/3) at City Hall at 10am. (RSVP to [email protected] if you’ll be there in case of any last minute updates.)


Some bills that MIGHT have hearings this week!

Note, bills are often listed on the hearing schedule but can be skipped and placed on the calendar to be heard at a later date. When a bill is scheduled for a hearing, until the hearing ends, you can weigh with a witness slip as a PROPONENT or an OPPONENT. (Sometimes groups indicate that they are neutral on a bill.) It’s best to submit slips before the hearing begins. Here’s our detailed instructions on submitting a witness slip.


In Human Services Committee (Today at 3pm)

  • HB40 Special education maximum age extension PROPONENT Extends special education services throughout the school year of a student’s 22nd birthday, rather than cutting off services on their 22nd birthday. 


In Ed: School Curriculum and Policies Committee (Wednesday at 9am)

  • HB219 Seclusion and restraint PROPONENT This ends the horrible practice of the use of seclusion rooms and prone restraints in IL schools. It also sets up a grant program for trauma-informed discipline practices contingent upon appropriation committee approval.
  • HB102 Childhood Anaphylactic Policy PROPONENT Requires the IL Department of Public Health, in consultation with ISBE and the Department of Children and Family Services, to establish anaphylactic policies for school districts and day care centers. 


In Ed: Administration, Licensing & Charter School Committee (Wednesday at 2pm)

  • HB251 Inclusive Local School Councils PROPONENT Brings the background screening requirements for Local School Council members into line with elected school board members’ requirements elsewhere in the state and those of basic volunteer requirements in CPS. [Fact Sheet
  • HB167 Grants for School Resource Officers OPPONENT Allows ISBE’s grant program for school safety and security to make grants to pay police departments for school resource officers (SROs). There is no evidence that police officers in schools improve safety. There is evidence that they harm the educational environment for Black and Brown students and students with disabilities. In addition, there are no protections for data collected on students by SROs in state or federal privacy law.


ACLU published our privacy recommendations for online learning

You can now find guidelines on the ACLU of IL’s website for best practices policies for remote learning to protect students’ privacy especially from tech-based surveillance. IL-FPS created  these last fall with the help of a working group including the ACLU of IL, Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, Access Living and others.

Protecting Privacy for Students Using School-Provided Technology

Even though remote learning has been in place for nearly a year now, many schools and districts are still not following best practices. Let us know if you have questions about school policies on things like camera usage, recording video-conference sessions, surveillance apps like GoGuardian and more: [email protected]

If we can’t answer your question, we can put you in touch with an array of experts and advocates who can help!



[Graphic used via Creative Commons]