Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gettin' Testy!

WCT thinks we hear the distant sounds of trumpets in the air and the hounds a-barkin'. Yes, B3's system-wide email today with the tell-tale words, "rigorous" and "increased expectations" heralds the beginning of "testing season," and what a season it will be--if parents choose not to opt their kids out.

Uh-oh, looks like B3 is suffering from test anxiety:

  • "Students must score at or above the 24th percentile on NWEA MAP to qualify to take the selective enrollment exam.  I know that questions regarding opting out of NWEA MAP have been raised, so let me be clear: CPS students without an NWEA MAP score will not be eligible for selective enrollment or promotion in grades 3, 6, and 8. In addition, SQRP ratings will suffer for test participation rates of less than 95%."
Gee, it seems like B3 is trying to intimidate parents. Dangling grade promotion over parents' and students' heads is mental warfare. Also, B3 shows she's firmly in Camp Arne by giving parents--the people to whom a child's welfare is entrusted--no credit for making the decision to opt their child out of one of the 10 tests (down from 25!) that are given. This memo puts principals and teachers in the roles of enforcer issuing the not-so-gentle-reminder that a school's performance rating will suffer if test participation lags below 95%. Not only must the principal now serve as chief truant officer and miracle-worker on testing days, they must also force participation. Where's the choice love, B3?

And then:

  • "Parents requesting to have their children opt out of the NWEA MAP must first have a conversation with the principal to discuss the consequences to their children. If after this conversation they still wish to opt out, they must make their request in writing.   Parents should be informed that there will be no alternate instruction given during the assessment and that children who are not being assessed will be required to engage in a silent, self-guided activity while their peers are being tested."
Parents must? Of all the things parents must do, talking to the principal about a decision they're making, is not one of them. Most parents would say they must: keep their kids safe and healthy;  listen to their kids; pay the bills; provide their kids with food, clothing, and shelter; and save for college. Nowhere on this list is making an appointment for a stern talking to by a principal.

B3 must be awfully nervous that the $4,003,553.00 contract (cha-chiiiiing!) CPS has with NWEA will go to waste if enough parents choose to opt out. Or that without sufficient standardized testing CPS will not be able to deem schools as failing and close them. Or that parents, teachers, and principals may have had enough.

Parents and teachers, what do you think? Leave a comment or send an email to

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