The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago Parents, Teachers and Students Oppose Testing

Mar 17, 2014

It’s March in Chicago, also known as testing season in the city’s elementary schools. But this year may be a little different. 1500 parents so far have opted out of the ISAT test for their children. And teachers at Saucedo Academy, an elementary school in Little Village, and Drummond Elementary on the North Side, voted to boycott the test.

The ISAT test was used to decide whether students would advance to the next grade, as well as to rate schools. Low test scores were the excuse used to close dozens of Chicago schools. With such high stakes, education in Chicago, as in the rest of the country, was distorted to teach to the test.

But the ISAT this year is a “no stakes test” – it will not be used to rate students or schools. That’s why parents and teachers targeted this test, which takes several days to administer. But they did so to make a bigger point: the students in Chicago deserve to be taught more than just how to take a test. Students at working class elementary schools have been more and more subjected to an education that focuses on tests like the ISAT, to the exclusion of real learning.

Some of the charter schools take this even further. Students’ entire education at Noble Street and other charters centers around tests like the ISAT.

Students who refuse this test will be able to learn something – and maybe teach the leaders of Chicago Public Schools a thing or two about education.