News update: ISBE wants more state tests; Recess advocacy toolkit for parents

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.

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What's new? IL recess law in effect now - Schools lose recognition by defying mask mandate - and more

Recess Law for IL K-5 students is *supposed* to be effective now

We are hearing from some parents who say that their school is not in compliance with the new recess law and that they have until next fall to adhere to it. This law took effect immediately upon signing, and school districts have known about it since late May when it passed the General Assembly. 

Many schools have adjusted their schedules to allow for the 30 minutes of play time, so we know it’s possible. We’re putting together a toolkit for parents on how to bring attention to the new law at the school level so you can advocate to ensure your kids get this much-needed time. In the meantime, our FAQ on the law can be downloaded here, and it has a list of resources you can utilize too.

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MEDIA ALERT: Illinois Landmark Recess Bill Signed into Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 14, 2021

ILLINOIS LANDMARK RECESS BILL SIGNED INTO LAW
Illinois Families for Public Schools Advocacy Succeeds with One of Strongest Laws in U.S. 

Illinois students in grades K-5 will have 30 protected minutes of recess this school year thanks to the hard work of Sen. Robert J. Peters, Rep. Aarón Ortíz and parent group, Illinois Families for Public Schools (IL-FPS). Governor JB Pritzker signed the bill into law on August 13th, effective immediately.

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New mask mandate for IL schools this fall and other news

There is a big divide among parents in IL (and nationally) over mask mandates. With the Delta variant surging, the CDC has recommended that all students and school employees wear masks this fall as part of a combination of strategies to combat the spread of COVID-19. This has enraged certain groups of parents who are showing up at school board meetings claiming it’s a matter of freedom, personal choice and even privacy whether their child wears a mask.

We have heard from parents on both sides of the issue and to make it clear, we at IL-FPS believe strongly in following guidance from public health experts and agencies, especially during a global pandemic that has killed over 600,000 people in this country. The covid vaccine is not yet available to children under 12 years of age, and the delta variant is highly contagious. 72,000 cases of covid were diagnosed in US children last week; up from 39,000 the week before.

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Comments on proposed new state testing system

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.

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MEDIA ALERT: Illinois Passes Landmark Recess Bill Protecting Kids' Right to Play

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2021

ILLINOIS PASSES LANDMARK RECESS BILL PROTECTING KIDS' RIGHT TO PLAY
Illinois Families for Public Schools' Advocacy Succeeds with One of Strongest Bills in U.S.

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois Illinois students in grades K-5 may have 30 protected minutes of recess starting this fall thanks to the hard work of Sen. Robert J. Peters, Rep. Aarón Ortíz and parent group, Illinois Families for Public Schools (IL-FPS).

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ERSB passes Senate but will be mayoral-controlled hybrid until 2027

State Senator Rob Martwick passed an amended bill in the Senate yesterday which would create a hybrid board with 10 elected members and 11 appointed members starting in January 2025, with all 21 members fully elected in January 2027.  This bill was a negotiation between Senator Martwick and Senator Lightford conducted by Senate President Harmon. The two sides were very far apart, and this was the bill President Harmon allowed to be called. We expect that when the IL House is called back to Springfield in a few weeks, it will pass in the House as well.

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The Right to Play Bill heads to Gov. Pritzker's desk!

We are thrilled to report that the Right to Play Every Day bill is on to the Governor’s desk! After it’s signed all children in grades K-5 in public schools in IL will have 30 minutes of protected recess time during the school day starting this school year, and that schools won’t be able to take recess away as a punishment. 

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Comments on proposed new state testing system

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.

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Opting out of the SAT this spring

Important information for families of 11th graders whose schools are administrating state tests this spring*: If your current junior is learning remotely and does not want to return to the school building in person only for the purpose of taking the SAT next week on April 13th (or on the make-up days later this spring), they can refuse the test by staying home. The school should mark them as absent and permit them to take the SAT next spring, 2022, to fulfill the SAT diploma requirement.
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