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
EVERY CHILD CAN REFUSE STATE TESTING!
Especially this year, using time and money to administer state tests isn’t what our children and our schools need. Due to the pandemic, the changes in testing conditions last year mean that this year’s test results may not be comparable with those from 2021 or pre-pandemic years.
And after years of interruptions, children need time for learning, not testing. Schools should use any time children are in the building as an opportunity for re-engagement that focuses on their overall well-being—social, emotional and physical. Time used for testing robs students of time that can be used for badly needed classroom instruction given the significant disruption to children's lives, in and out of school over the past two years.
Frequently Asked Questions for grades K-8
What is state testing in Illinois for Grades 3–8?
State testing in Illinois for Grades 3–8 consists of a series of tests. Nearly all students in Grades 3–8 take the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR), which tests students in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Students in Grades 5 and 8 also take a science test (ISA). Students with severe learning disabilities take a different test, called the DLM-AA. Students who are English Language Learners also take a test called ACCESS, which tests their proficiency with the English language.
How can my child opt out of taking the state tests in 2022?
In Illinois, a parent can inform the school that a child will not be participating in state testing but, according to the IL State Board of Education guidance, children must refuse the test themselves. We recommend that the parent submit a letter to the school indicating that the child will not take the state tests. However, the child must also inform the teacher that she or he will not be taking the tests. You can use these sample letters to opt out of the tests: bit.ly/IARoptout2022
Will my child be penalized for not taking the test?
No. There are no consequences for not testing and your child should not be punished for opting out of the state test.
Will state tests help my child or school in 2022?
The unique challenges of the last few school years, including changes to the 2021 test administration, mean that the test results this year cannot be used reliably to compare with results from previous years. Schools and teachers will gather better information from everyday instruction that will be more useful for helping your child learn.
Are there negative consequences for their school if my child opts out?
Schools may receive a lower accountability rating, but, since 2015, there have been no punitive consequences attached to those ratings for schools. In fact schools with lower ratings receive more support including, potentially, additional funding. No school has ever lost funding due to low participation.
Continued complicity with a system where state standardized testing disrupts learning is far more damaging to our public schools than families refusing the tests.
What will my child do when tests are being administered to other children?
Students should be given an alternative educational activity while other children are taking the test.
Too Young to Test bill passes on the Senate floor! Now it's the House's turn!
Last week the full Senate voted on the Too Young to Test bill, and it passed with broad bipartisan support, 53-2, with only Senators Curran (R-Downers Grove) and Plummer (R-Vandalia) voting no. (Roll call here.)
But this bill is facing more opposition in the House from the IL State Board of Education because they are very eager to expand the state testing system into K-2.
Please take a minute today to call your state rep if you haven't called yet this week. Ask if you can count on them to vote YES on the floor on HB 5285 and ask them to sign on as a sponsor.Read more
Too Young to Test bill through committee!
The Too Young to Test bill kept moving forward this past week. It passed in committee in the IL House on Wednesday evening, with the hard work of chief sponsor Rep Lindsey LaPointe and heartfelt speeches from Representatives Sue Scherer and Cyril Nichols about the damage high-stakes testing has done to children.
With the Senate version passing in committee the previous week, both bills could have a floor vote in their respective chamber any day once ILGA returns to Springfield on Tuesday.Read more
Updates on standardized testing bills in hearing in the House this week, HB 5285 and HB 5149; expanding the Earned Income Credit and creating a Child Tax Credit to make IL's tax structure less regressive; what's happening with the mask mandate lawsuit and its impact on schools.Read more
Last Tuesday the Senate version of the Too Young to Test bill, SB 3986, passed in the Senate Education Committee. There is also a companion bill in the House, HB 5285, filed by chief sponsor Rep Lindsey LaPointe with the same language as the Senate version that is now moving, and it has a House Education Committee hearing this Wednesday 2/16 at 2pm.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.