Hundreds of bills are introduced in Springfield every session. Here's some of the bills that we'll be supporting or following closely during the spring 2022 session of the 102nd IL General Assembly. (This is an unusually short session that is scheduled to end April 8th instead of May 31st; there's a smaller volume of legislation under consideration than in a typical year.)
Too Young to Test HB 5285 / SB 3986- [Fact Sheet] This bill would prohibit state developing, funding or requiring standardized testing before 3rd grade with exceptions for assessment for diagnostic and screening purposes, federally-required tests for English-language learners, the KIDS observational assessment tool that the state requires in kindergarten and tests paid for with local/district dollars. The federal government has never included K-2 in its regimen for annual math and reading tests; this is because large-scale standardized testing is not a valid or reliable measure of what children under 8 years know and can do. Expanding the state testing system into PreK-2nd grade shouldn't even be an option; this legislation would protect those grades from that encroachment going forward.
Other bills we support
Earned Income and Child Tax Credit HB 4920 Expands and modernizes the earned income credit, which will especially help low- and middle-income families with children, including adding credit for unpaid caregivers. The failure of the Fair Tax amendment on the ballot in November 2020 means that Illinois' tax system is still deeply regressive. Those who can pay the least, pay the most, and we can't increase revenue without hurting those who can least afford to pay. Advocacy orgs from around the state, including IL Families for Public Schools, are partnering with the Cost of Living Refund Coalition to ameliorate the effects of IL’s regressive tax policies with tax credits for lower-income brackets to offset the impact of a flat tax, including supporting this legislation. Read more about the legislation the coalition is advocating for here.
Limit 3-8th grade testing to once/year - HB 5149 [Fact Sheet] Prohibits the IL State Board of Education from requiring more than annual math and reading testing in grades 3rd-8th. The federal government only requires annual testing in 3rd-8th grades in math and reading, but the ISBE would like to increase this to three times per year.
Better School Lunches HB 4813 This bill allows school districts to select a food service contractor based on factors other than the lowest bid. Illinois is one of only two states where districts are forced to pick the lowest bid. Read more about this bill here.
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 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.