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NCLB Outrages

Students opting out of ISAT barred from school

This is fallout from NCLB. Because NCLB requires high testing participation, local districts do everything possible to get kids to take the tests.

The following is a March 2006 letter from parents to local newspaper; their decision to opt out of Illinois state standardized tests led to students’ being denied access to school for two weeks.

Take a look at the District 97 Mission Statement:

Our mission is to educate every child to be an academically successful student, a socially responsible citizen, and a life-long learner, by teaching the necessary knowledge and skills, and the appreciation of cultural diversity, within schools that foster excellence, mutual respect, creativity, and the joy of learning, with an effective, caring , innovative staff, in partnership with home and community.

Among the Essential Transdisciplinary Qualities and Indicators of a Life-Long Learner is this imperative: Shows concern for global issues and acts as a global citizen

Children Denied Access to School is a District 97 Decision

There are some children in Oak Park District 97 who have been denied access to their education at school for two weeks.

Our two daughters, 10 and 12 years old, have never participated in ISAT testing. In previous years, during testing hours, we would simply keep our children out of the school building. We would bring them back to school during the hours when teachers were teaching and children were
learning. The former District 97 administration respected our rights, as parents, to make this decision.

This year, District 97 administrators informed us and other parents considering “opting out” of ISAT testing that our children would not be
allowed to attend school at any time during the two week "testing window" when the ISATS are administered and the make-up tests are offered. Two weeks out of school. The District claims this is the State's policy and that they have no choice but to "follow the law". Dr. Kevin Anderson, in last week’s Wednesday Journal, was quoted as saying that the “district’s hands are tied”.

Imagine our surprise when we received, last week, this email from the legal department of the Illinois State Board of Education:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Gill,

Your email was forwarded to me for reply. You ask whether it is the state’s intention that students should not be allowed back into school
for the remainder of the testing day or during the make-up window. There is no intention on the part of ISBE to have students miss school unless
absolutely necessary. Having stated that, I encourage you to reconsider your child/children’s participation in the state assessments.


Renee Vilatte
Assistant Legal Advisor, ISBE

It is clear that the decision to deny access to school, during the hours when teachers are teaching and children are learning, is a District 97 decision. We find it disheartening that the District would create such a policy. We find it more disheartening that the District would hide behind a supposed state mandate that does not exist.

We do not participate in ISAT testing precisely because we disagree with the amount of time that is taken away from children's education to
satisfy the demands of ISAT testing and preparation. This time, taken away from children's education, does not benefit the children. How can we ask children to take true "ownership" of their education and work when such emphasis is placed on an examination that offers benefits only to the district bureaucracy?

It is disheartening that District 97 would keep our two children out of school because we object to time taken away from education. It is especially disheartening that District administrators would tell parents of children with special needs, who contemplated keeping
children home during testing hours in order to protect them from developmentally inappropriate practice, that they, too, must keep their
children out of school for two weeks if they chose not to participate in ISATs. ( This practice was described in last week’s Wednesday Journal article.) Again, this punitive policy was devised by administrators of
District 97, not anyone at the legal department of the Illinois State Board of Education.

This dishonesty on the part of District 97 administrators makes it much easier to explain to our children that being forced to miss two weeks of school is a protest, not a punishment.

We ask that the District reconsider its policy for next year.

Jim and Sue Gill

— Jim and Sue Gill
Letter to Editor


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