The IL State Board of Ed held a series of budget hearings this month to get feedback from the public on requests for the state's FY2024 budget for public education. IL Families for Public Schools' Samay Gheewala spoke at the Oct 4th hearing, along with representatives of several other members of the PEER (Partnership for Equity and Education Rights) Illinois funding coalition. Read his remarks after the jump.Read more
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.Read more
It’s been an entire year since the State Superintendent brought to the IL State Board of Education a proposal for revamping the state standardized test system by increasing 3-8th grade math and reading testing to three times per year rather than just once and adding optional tests for K-2 as well.
The K-2 part of the proposal will be blocked if Governor Pritzker signs SB 3986, the Too Young To Test bill, which was sent to his desk on April 29th. But the proposal for 3-8th grade is still on the table.Read more
Despite the fact that the federal government only mandates standardized testing for 3rd grade and up, the Illinois State Board of Education wants to add K-2nd grade to the state standardized testing system via the new three-times-per year interim test they are proposing, which would look much like the NWEA MAP or other commercial through-year standardized tests.
This K-2nd testing would officially be optional, but the state would cover the cost for districts, and with the high-stakes of 3-8th grade testing, most districts would make use of it.
Please add yourself as a signatory of this petition to ISBE. We'll be delivering it before ISBE votes on the new state testing plan later this year. We're also working on legislation to prohibit state testing before 3rd grade; you can read about it here.
Tell ISBE: No state testing before third grade! K-2 is too young to test!
There is absolutely no reason to subject our youngest learners in Illinois, whom we want to engage in the love of learning and the joy of school via exploration, inquiry and play, to the pressures of standardized testing, sorting and tracking at the age of 5. Early childhood learning should be free from this harmful practice. As the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) states, “Standardized testing in the early years causes stress, does not provide useful information, leads to harmful tracking and labeling of children, causes teaching to the test, and fails to set conditions for cooperative learning and problem-solving.”
State standardized testing in K-2 is not valid and reliable, not required by federal law and not wanted by the majority of teachers, parents and administrators who know that standardized testing isn't developmental appropriate for children under age 8. Kids this age are in a period of rapid and uneven growth; their physical, cognitive and social-emotional well-being will be negatively impacted by devoting time to testing. And their learning potential should not be judged on what a standardized test might show at any given moment of their school day. Illinois currently uses the KIDS observational assessment for kindergartners, which is a tool where teachers collect observational data, and it is not used as a high-stakes accountability test, and this is different then what ISBE is now proposing for K-2.
Moreover, most countries do not subject students to annual standardized testing—even when they are eight years and older. It is very common to use standardized tests no more than once in grade school, once in middle and once in high school (="grade band testing".) We are already overtesting older students and do not need to extend this problem to students ages 5-7 who may not even have the fine motor skills to take such tests or emotional capacity to comprehend and cope with testing. ISBE, we urge you to drop this inappropriate and ill-conceived plan.
Ahead of Wednesday’s IL State Board of Education meeting, thirty-seven Illinois state legislators are sending a letter Tuesday to the Board asking them for more due diligence before any approval vote on a multi-million dollar new state testing system.Read more
IL School Librarians Burdened by FOIA Request re “1619 Project”
As we’ve been sharing with you, school boards and school districts have been under serious attack by right-wing groups recently. So much so that the National Association of School Boards have asked the Biden Administration for help from federal law enforcement. School boards here in Illinois have faced confrontations over mask requirements, vaccines and how to teach about race.
The letter from the NASB to Biden mentions that in September in Mendon, IL a man was arrested for aggravated battery and disorderly conduct, which according to the Associated Press was for allegedly striking a school official at a school board meeting.Read more
ISBE to move ahead with 3x/year state test despite backlash
Chalkbeat reported last week that the IL State Board of Ed wants to move ahead with a new state test for the 2022-2023 school year that they’ll pilot for two years while students also take the current IAR state test.
The new test would be what testing companies call an "interim" or “benchmark” test—administered three times a year—instead of a once-a-year summative test like the existing IAR. This is bad news as ample research has shown commercial interim tests are not educationally beneficial, and attaching high-stakes compounds the drawbacks.Read more
The IL State Board of Education was set to approve a Request for Proposals for a $227M contract to start on July 1, 2021 to develop and administer a new state test for Illinois at its June board meeting. In response to organizing from teachers, parents and assessment experts, they announced a delay to the vote until at least August.Read more
In April, the IL State Board of Education had on its agenda an approval of a Request for Proposals for a $227M contract to start on July 1, 2021 to develop and administer a new state test for Illinois. The test would be administered three times a year, not just once, and would cover K-2, not just 3-8th, which is what the federal government requires. The approval vote has been delayed until ISBE's June 16th meeting, but much of the pubic participation at this week's May ISBE meeting was devoted to comments on this RFP. Marty Gartzman spoke on behalf of IL Families for Public Schools.
In April 2021, the IL State Board of Education had an item on its agenda to approve of a Request for Proposals for a contract to start on July 1, 2021 to replace the annual math and reading tests for 3-8th grade (IAR). New interim tests given three times a year and made available for K-2nd grade as well (with the state paying the cost for the schools that chose to test K-2nd grade students.)
To meet federal requirements, Illinois couldn't immediately replace the IAR but would need to pilot this new test until 2024 or 2025. So 20% of IL students would take both the IAR and these new tests until then. The expected cost of the new test is $228M over the next ten years---on top of the cost for the remaining four years of IAR testing.
After IL-FPS and our allies raised questions, the Board's approval vote was delayed until May, and then delayed again. And intense pushback from educators, parents and assessment experts has so far put a pause on the vote. Stakeholder feedback sessions on a new assessment were finally held in February 2022, and the Board is scheduled to consider the findings from those sessions in March with a vote on the proposal in May 2022.
Read more about the testing system proposal and what you can do about it in our one-pager: 2021 State Testing Update: What you need to Know
And learn about what interim tests are and why they aren't suitable for a high-stakes accountability system in this explainer: Interim tests: What you need to know
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