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As ISAT and PSAE loom, Chicago needs to establish parents' and children's rights in all CPS testing programs

Susan Notes:

Chicago parent and teacher Sharon Schmidt made a short, pointed presentation to the Chicago Board of Education. and just look at the attention she got.

The strategy is brilliant. She asked for three things. They are clear, straightforward, and easy to implement (unless officials have something to hide.) Other parents should take these requests nation-wide.

And stay tuned to Substance News for further developments on this important story.

by Sharon Schmidt

Feb. 25, 2010

I delivered the following presentation the the Chicago Board of Education at its February 24, 2010 meeting, during public participation. A group of parents will be meeting regularly on these issues.

My name is Sharon Schmidt. I am the managing editor of Substance. I am a parent of a CPS graduate and two younger children. I am also a teacher in the CPS.

I am here to talk about testing in the elementary schools. I have three points to make.

Number One: Every parent needs a schedule of every test every child is expected to take. As you know, the schedule for testing varies in the different schools and classrooms. For example, primary grade students in some schools take the DIBELS battery of tests three times a year while others have progress monitoring every other week. Students in 3rd through 8th grade in some schools have two days or three days of Learning First benchmark tests three times a year, as well as the computerized Scantron tests. Of course, all this is on top of the ISAT. Parents need to know what the tests are and when they are being administered. They need information at the beginning of the year and throughout the year.

Number Two: Immediately following the test, parents need a copy of the test and an explanation of how it was scored and how the results are being used.

Number Three: You need to make a provision for parents to opt out their children from any inappropriate, experimental, or excessive testing. We are talking about young children who are being pressured repeatedly.

We would like to hear from you very soon about these issues. Thank you.

After I spoke, the vice-president of the Chicago Board of Education, Clare Munana, the Chief Executive Officer of the public schools Ron Huberman, and the Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason Watkins engaged in conversation with me.

Munana said I was right, that parents need information and they will do better giving it.

Eason Watkins said a lot of the testing choices are made by the local schools and that results are being given of Learning First tests with report cards so that parents can see how their children are doing.

Huberman said the Scantron tests and others are online and will give teachers immediate feedback. When he mentioned that I told him that I was confused about the Scantron test and wondered how often it was being administrated. He said that that was still being worked out. I reiterated that parents need the choice to opt out of excessive testing.

After my presentation they had me meet with a woman from Eason Watkins office, named Angie Alleman. She is a person I will try to work with to obtain information that I can share in Substance.

— Sharon Schmidt



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