Movement Against Standardized Tests Resurges in Chicago

The national wave of resistance to standardized testing continues this week, with teachers in Chicago launching a campaign to push back against the tests they see as a “major drain on classroom time, undermine education, and stand in stark contrast to the proven student assessment tools” developed by classroom teachers.

At a press conference on Thursday, a National Day of Action on Testing, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) announced their “Let Us Teach” campaign, which encourages parents to opt out of standardized testing and urges the Chicago Public Schools to put an immediate end to testing students in 2nd grade and younger.

Among the problems with the standardized tests CTU President Karen Lewis detailed was how they are used punitively “to justify decisions about student and school rankings; to target so-called ‘failing or underperforming’ schools; and ultimately, to make decisions about school closings.”

The intense testing raises questions, said Lewis. “How much is CPS paying for these standardized testing programs and to whom?” Also, asked Lewis, students in some of the city’s most elite private schools don’t have to take these tests, so why must CPS students?

Catalyst Chicago reports that while CPS officials have made some changes in testing policies,

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In January a boycott against a mandated standardized test at Seattle’s Garfield High School, which ultimately led to victory, received national press coverage as well as national support.  The next month, teachers, parents, students and other supporters cross-country joined a Day of Action in solidarity with the  teachers’ standardized test boycott.

As Owen Davis writes in The Nation, the spark from Seattle has spread far and wide:

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