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ISAT Boycott

Information and Resources for Fighting Over-testing


Statements of Support for Drummond and Saucedo ISAT Boycotts


Karen Lewis supports Saucedo's teachers


Teachers at second CPS school
to boycott low-stakes ISAT

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) supports the teachers and parents at Thomas Drummond Montessori School who announced today their intent to boycott the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). The union was notified by a group of teachers at Drummond this morning who will not administer next week's ISAT.

Some teachers at Drummond will join Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy as the second school this week with educators taking action against this “low-stakes” standardized test. Saucedo teachers announced on Tuesday their intent to boycott the ISAT.

“This second [school with boycotting teachers] is evidence that more and more educators continue to take a principled stand against harmful tests and in support of their parents and students,” said CTU VP Jesse Sharkey. “The CTU supports these teachers and calls on the district to stop making threats to parents and educators who are trying to restore some sanity to the education system.”

The CTU commends these members and pledges continued support and representation in the event of any retaliatory adverse action CPS may take against them.


UPDATE: Continued CTU support
of the Saucedo ISAT boycott

The Chicago Teachers Union continues our support of the teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy who on Tuesday announced their intent to boycott the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). Despite today's communication from Chicago Public Schools to principals regarding the "facts" behind the ISAT and possible repercussions should teachers refuse to administer the test, our members are not criminals and will not be intimidated by these threats.

Should Saucedo's brave and principled educators face disciplinary charges by the district, the union is steadfast in its vow to defend their show of solidarity and collective action.

Statement of boycott support
from CTU President Karen Lewis (VIDEO)

Karen Lewis supports Saucedo's teachers


CTU supports teacher boycott
of low-stakes ISAT

Chicago—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) supports teachers and parents at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy who announced today their intent to boycott the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). Teachers have collected more than 300 opt-out letters and the student council voted to encourage all students to opt out of the exam. Should these courageous educators face disciplinary charges by the district, CTU vowed to mount a strong defense of this collective action.

Saucedo’s action stance against the ISAT could spark a teacher and parent-led movement to “opt-out” throughout the Chicago Public Schools system.

“The Saucedo educators have taken a bold step in refusing to administer a test that is of no use to students and will be junked by the district next year,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has already said the ISAT will not be used for selective enrollment, and therefore this serves no purpose other than to give students another standardized test. We know that parents all over the city are opting their children out of this unnecessary test, and we commend them for doing what is in the best interests of their children.”

The ‘low stakes’ test is expected to be administered over the course of eight days in all elementary schools starting March 3rd. Formerly used to help qualify 7th grade students for selective enrollment high schools. The district recently issued a memorandum to teachers stressing the value of “rigorous, high-quality assessments,” in measuring student progress. The ISAT, however, is not aligned to any CPS curriculum, and in Chicago, it is no longer used to measure student progress, school performance, promotion, or for any other purpose.

For the last decade, since the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the ISAT test has been the primary lever used by CPS for its destructive, destabilizing policies of closures and turnarounds. System-wide, the ISAT has infected the vigor and breadth of curriculum as teachers and students became stymied by the requirements of a narrow test-based approach to learning. NCLB has now been panned as a broad failure, but with the transition into more new tests, CPS threatens to double-down on the failed policy of standardized-test based accountability.

"Too much testing." —America Olmedo, Saucedo Elementary Teacher (VIDEO)

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) vows to stand with its members who have announced their support for the parents boycotting the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). These teachers are leading by example, standing up for the best interests of their students, and acting collectively for the mutual aid and protection of their colleagues. CTU commends these members and pledges its support and representation in the event of any retaliatory adverse action CPS may take against them. Further, we hope that this brave action of students, parents, and teachers will serve to highlight for CPS the failure of a narrow, test-based approach to education that stifles creativity and undermines the efforts of teachers to develop engaged, curious, lifelong learners.

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Our schools are spending more time on tests every year, taking time away from students for real learning. CPS piles on more high-stakes tests instead of providing resources and access to arts, languages and critical thinking that too many students are denied.

This year, the ISAT is not being used for student promotion, teacher evaluation, school performance, or selective enrollment applications. So why are students set to lose more than a week of classes for a meaningless exam?

Below are resources for CTU activists, parents and others on testing—facts on over-testing in CPS, tools for reaching out to parents, and letters for opting students out of the ISAT and other exams.

For more information or to help organize a meeting about testing at your school, contact the CTU Organizing Department at 312-329-6227 or organizing@ctulocal1.com.

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