Demanding fewer standardized tests in their children's schools, and more test transparency from the district, parents of children in 37 Chicago public schools gathered signatures before and after school today on a new petition created by the parent, teacher, student and community coalition, “More Than a Score.”
The event is also a show of support for the Feb. 6 National Day of Action to Support Seattle MAP Test Boycott.
The petitions ask CPS and the Chicago Board of Education to limit standardized testing and provide more transparency about the cost, amount and stakes of the 22 tests now being used in the district. The group intends to present the completed petitions all together to the Board in the near future.
“Our children just take too many tests,” said parent Joy Clendenning, whose children attend Ray elementary school and Kenwood high school. Joy was out early this morning while parents dropped their children off at school, talking to other parents and collecting signatures. “It's getting to the point where the libraries and computer labs are being used for testing more than learning, and our children are missing out on other important areas of education because of all the testing.”
The More Than a Score petition has three demands:
- Eliminate standardized testing for children from preschool to 2nd grade and greatly reduce it for 3rd grade and above.
- End the use of standardized testing data to evaluate students and educators and to close schools.
- Fully disclose the cost, schedule, nature, and purpose of all standardized tests.
Rachel Lessem, whose child attends Pritzker elementary school, passed petitions after school today. “Something has to be done,” she said. “CPS says they have to close schools and disrupt communities to save money, yet they are spending untold millions of dollars on standardized testing instead of small class sizes and other important improvements that might actually help struggling schools.”
The petition was written by parents and others frustrated with the scale, expense and consequences of the testing regime in CPS. The group has been disappointed with CPS's lack of response to their concerns and hopes the petition will serve as a wake-up call to the Board of Education and the CPS leadership that parents, students, teachers and community members will no longer accept the status quo of high stakes standardized testing currently in use in Chicago.
Parents collecting signatures reported reactions of great interest and some surprise from the parents they spoke to. Jennie Biggs, who passed petitions at Mark Sheridan school, said, “Many parents asked me, 'How come I don't know about all this testing?' Then, they would sign.!”
“Tests are taking over our children's education,” Jennie added. “They should not be given so much weight in judging students, teachers, or schools. We think the best way to do that is to look at what children are actually doing in the classroom, not just how well they fill out bubble sheets.”
The group timed their event in part to coincide with a national day of support for the Garfield High School teachers in Seattle and all teachers in Seattle Public Schools who are refusing to administer the MAP test. These teachers have gained national attention and support for their stand against the Measure of Academic Progress, for its invalidity, waste of time and resources and its scandalous arrival to Seattle.
An online version of the More Than a Score petition garnered some 2,500 signatures in its first week.
Here's the link to the map of schools where parents passed petitions today:
For more information, please visit www.morethanascorechicago.org