We are truly inspired by courageous students, parents and educators in Chicago for calling to question tests that hinder learning. Thank you for moving us towards a more humane and respectful learning experience. People continue to reject something that has been extremely unjust for immigrants, people of color, and poorer communities for over one hundred years now in the United States... HIGH STAKES PRESSURIZED TESTS & ALL THE DUMBING-DOWN OF OUR CHILDREN! What's worse is knowing that the tests were originally designed in large part by eugenicists and used for military officer selection - so as to weed out people of color from obtaining a higher military rank in the early 1900s. Now, they're designed by multi-billion dollar corporations with nothing to offer our children but horrible test-prep booklets and multiple-choice "bubble" tests that hurt most of our kids.
If we're being honest, all educators and parents know these standardized tests wield extraordinary powers to judge, sort, track, label, and largely control one's future concerning education, college, career, even self-esteem, or the lack thereof. Yet, we also know daily survival continues even after "bombing on the test." This is especially true when factoring in actual socio-political systems such as poverty, race, gender, class, legal status, and abilities - in particular. The recently growing Opt-Out Movement begins to challenge these inhumane tests, tracks, and constructs. Bravo! We dedicate this page to supporting (and updating) the growing movement against the persistent unjust sorting and labeling of our children!
Only great learning with meaningfully challenging and highly engaging curriculum coupled with powerful relationship-building between adults, students, and families in our school communities can reverse the persistent problems of miseducation, over-testing, and drill and kill lessons that cause boredom and drudgery. Reversing factory-model schooling is immense (see the expansion of factory-model schooling in Gary, Illinois, 1910s, Gary Plan), but Opt-Outers are doing it.
Instead of school staff bullying and pressuring our children to take the ISATs, maybe everyone should follow the particular directive of Barbara Byrd Bennet, CEO of CPS, more often. She recommended our students spend time reading while opting-out of the ISAT during March 3 to March 14, 2014. In alignment with this directive, and until these tests are put in their place, CGCT would like to offer some suggestions for great reading materials to help students critically analyze CPS history as well as this high stakes testing system. Please use the following materials and follow the links below so all our children can have a chance to reflect upon and share their experiences on the effects of unequal schooling and high-stakes tests!
Critical Materials (grades 7 and up)
'63 Boycott, website support for the forthcoming film by Kartemquin Films
Accompanying Lesson Plans (aligned to the LP format for CPS Civics course)
Accompanying Handout Activities
Follow these links to find materials for grades 3 and up
First Graders Take a Test by Miriam Cohen
Hooray for Diffendorfer Day by Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith
Hooray for Diffendorfer Day - You Tube Read Aloud
Testing Ms. Malarky by Judy Finchler
The Biggest Test in the Universe by Nancy Poydar
Reading Rainbow, featuring The Biggest Test in the Universe by Nancy Poydar
Student Website on Educational Inequities by Jones College Prep sophomores
Some discussion starters
How do you feel when you take standardized tests?
What are standardized tests?
Who sees the test results and what do they use them for?
What are better ways to find out what students know and can do?
How do you feel about the students and schools who have opted-out?
What will you do in the future with the new PARCC test?