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Topic: Chicago Teachers Say No to High-Stakes Testing Madness
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 13,350
Registered: 12/3/04
Chicago Teachers Say No to High-Stakes Testing Madness
Posted: Sep 13, 2012 10:15 PM
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From Huff Post EDUCATION, Thursday, September 13, 2012. See
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-guisbond/chicago-teachers-say-no-t_b_1881366.html
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Chicago Teachers Say No to High-Stakes Testing Madness

By Lisa Guisbond [FairTest]

Sometimes things get so crazy in our schools that classroom educators
must use their "Teacher Voice" to restore sanity. That's what is
happening in Chicago, where striking public school teachers are
shouting "enough is enough" to test-driven school reform schemes. The
strike is just the latest, and loudest, example of the growing
national resistance to failed, top-down, test-driven educational
policies.

Remarkably, despite the severe disruption to the lives of Chicago
families, more voters polled support the teachers than oppose them.
[See
http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/15081881-418/poll-47-of-chicago-registered-voters-support-teachers-in-strike.html
]Many parents share teachers' disgust at what a tsunami of testing
has done to their children's school days. They are concerned about
what has been washed away: things like art, music, phys ed and recess.

Across the nation, tens of thousands of parents, teachers, and school
leaders are rising up to resist so-called reforms based on
standardized exam misuse. [See
http://www.fairtest.org/resistance-high-stakes-testing-spreads [ From
Texas to Long Island and Washington to Florida, people with
first-hand knowledge of the damage being done to academic quality and
equity are pushing back. They want out-of-touch politicians and their
funders to stop doubling down on strategies that have not worked.

The Chicago strike is the tip of the iceberg of teacher frustration.
They're fed up with policies that blame educators for problems
largely caused by the impoverished settings in which their students
live and the city's own misguided polices. "Accountability" is the
rallying cry of so-called reformers like Mayor Emanual and Education
Secretary Arne Duncan. But instead of punishing front-line teachers,
policy makers at the city, state and federal levels should be held
accountable for their failures to create conditions in which all
children can learn. [See
http://www.fairtest.org/resistance-high-stakes-testing-spreads ]

The attempt to improve Chicago schools through increased use of
high-stakes tests over the past 20 years has been a colossal failure.
The damage is worst in classrooms serving the city's neediest
children. (In Chicago, 80 percent of students qualify for free or
reduced price lunches - see
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/chicago-teachers-union-president-brash-advocate-17222106#.UFKR5M0f8ll
]) Mayor Emanuel's scheme to evaluate classroom educators based on
their students' test scores, a technique independent experts say is
severely flawed, will make the situation worse. If history is a
guide, it will mean more curricular narrowing, more test prep, and
better teachers fleeing for the suburbs. [See
http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/Pay%20for%20Test%20Scores%20Fact%20Sheet%20final.pdf
]Some will seek jobs in private schools like the ones Mayor Emanuel's
children attend, the elite University of Chicago Lab School.

Several years ago, the Lab School's director, David Magill, wrote,
"Physical education, world languages, libraries and the arts are not
frills. They are an essential piece of a well-rounded education." To
his credit, Magill sees what's going on around him and is dismayed.
In a statement on the school's web site, he said, "Measuring outcomes
through standardized testing and referring to those results as the
evidence of learning and the bottom line is, in my opinion, misguided
and, unfortunately, continues to be advocated under a new name and
supported by the current [Obama] administration." [See
http://www.ucls.uchicago.edu/news/detail.aspx?linkid=2480&moduleid=133
]

Mayor Emanuel can't say nobody told him. In March, researchers from
16 universities around Chicago sent him an open letter, saying, "The
new evaluation system for teachers and principals centers on
misconceptions about student growth, with potentially negative impact
on the education of Chicago's children."

The world is watching Chicago and waiting to see the outcome of this
high-stakes strike. Meanwhile, educators around the country along
with parents, students, school board members, and others are using
their teacher voices to try and move school policy in a new, better
direction.

FairTest initiated the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing as
a vehicle for this growing movement. The resolution was cosponsored
by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the United Church of
Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, and Chicago Parents United for
Responsible Education (PURE), among other groups. So far, more than
400 organizations and 12,000 individuals have endorsed it. If you are
looking for change, add your name and your voice.
----------------------------
DISCLOSURE: FairTest has received funding from the National Education
Association.
***************************************************
--
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244
E-mail: jbecker@siu.edu



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