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 does not require standardized math and reading tests for students in grades K-2, the IL State Board of Ed is considering a proposal that would expand the state testing system to include those grades. They will be voting soon on this proposal, which would also increase 3-8th grade state math and reading testing to three times a year instead of once, in addition to paying for districts to give these tests to our youngest learners—when there’s absolutely no federal requirement to do so!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.
Public comment at December 15, 2021 ISBE meeting from Cassie Creswelll, IL-FPS directorRead more
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
Downers Grove parents and students push back against extremist group trying to ban LGBTQ+ books
We shared with you last week that book banning attempts are on the rise nationally, and right here in Downers Grove a meeting was held Monday where a small group of parents supported by outside agitators showed up to try and have award-winning LGBTQ books banned from the school library. Luckily, the community came out in force to speak out against this attempt at this bigoted attempt at censorship.Read more
As we’ve shared, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has been talking about adding an additional state test for months, which would increase state testing to 3x a year and add an optional—but state-funded—component to test students in K-2 even though the feds don’t mandate state testing for students under 3rd grade. We’ve been part of a coalition working with teachers, assessment experts and other orgs to push back against this, as the type of interim test ISBE wants to use has been shown to have harmful effects on teaching and learning, and is not supposed to be used as high-stakes.Read more
Last week, a lawsuit was filed against 145 school districts including Chicago Public Schools, Governor Pritzker and ISBE by groups of parents at these districts to lift the mask mandate and other covid safety measures in the schools. Each group of parents gave Attorney Tom Devore $5000 totalling $725K donated to make our schools and communities unsafe.Read more
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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