A group of teachers at Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Little Village is refusing to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) because it says students are being over-tested and this exam is of little consequence. Some teachers handed out notes to students encouraging them not to take the test. The note indicated to students that with a parent's approval, a student can write "refuse" on the ISAT or leave it blank. Instead, the note said, students should quietly read a book.
The ISAT is being phased out, and the results are not used for promotion, graduation or rating teachers or schools. That's why some teachers say the ISAT is unnecessary.
However, the ISAT is still required by law to determine compliance with No Child Left Behind. CPS spokesman Joel Hood said the CPS is administering the ISAT to students in accordance with State and Federal law and said the Board of Education requires school districts to distribute the exam to all students in grades 3-8 and to give them the opportunity to participate.
Teachers who are found to be encouraging students to opt out of the test will face disciplinary action, according to CPS, which could include revoking teaching certificates.
"Cowards make baseless threats. Why would they take away our certification for wanting to teach? That is absurd," Sarah Chambers, special education teacher, said.
"We think that standardized testing has gone too far. It's gone crazy in the district. And we think these teachers are taking a principled stand on this issue and we think it's somewhat courageous and they should be supported," Jesse Sharkey, Chicago Teachers Union vice president, said.
The union says students at as many as 70 Chicago schools are opting out of the test. Only two schools refused to administer it altogether.
Officials say CPS is working closely with the State Board of Education receiving guidance from the board on how to handle the teachers who may decide to refuse to give out the ISAT to students.
''The District is working with principals and teachers to ensure that students who are taking the ISAT are able to do so in a quiet environment that is free from distraction,'' Hood said.