A former Chicago Public Schools teacher left a comment and referred to this article, which features one of her students. He is organizing a boycott of PARCC. Illinois offers no “formal” way to opt out; the decision is left to children. Some schools are threatening punishments of various kinds, and school officials imply that the tests have been improved. They say, for example, that the results will arrive in the summer, instead of the fall, when there is still time to help children. On the face of it, that claim is ridiculous. The child is not in school in the summer, for starters. He or she won’t have the same teacher by the time the results come in. Worse, there is nothing in the results that will “help” the teachers or the children. How are children “helped” by learning that they have scored a 1, 2, 3, or 4? How will they be helped if they learned what percentile they scored it? This is all nonsense, which is why students and parents should opt out and demand an end of this massive waste of money and instructional time.


This week, when state standardized testing begins at many CPS schools, at least one sixth-grader at Sumner Elementary School will be sitting out PARCC.


“I’m going to refuse PARCC next week because we haven’t had typing classes,” Diontae Chatman told the Board of Education last week, missing school for the first time all year so he could testify.


“We didn’t have a qualified math teacher from September to January,” he added. Plus last year, students taking the test online were logged on and off repeatedly, among other problems.


But skipping the test, even though state law allows it, could bring about consequences that feel unfair to children.


“My school is threatening to take away our field day to students who refuse PARCC,” Diontae explained. “I think we all should get treated the same way, if we take it or if we don’t take it.”


Once again, neither Chicago Publics Schools nor the Illinois State Board of Education have any specific directive for how schools should treat children who refuse to take the exam between now and May 15.


Meanwhile, the district is urging all parents to participate in the test, saying PARCC provides useful detailed data.


“PARCC is a mandatory exam and the district’s failure to implement the exam does have serious consequences” that are financial, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said. “We’re making a lot of short-term fixes, so we can’t afford any reduction in financing from the state as a result of our failure to administer the test.”


PARCC — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — is given to third- through eighth-graders and some high schoolers. Aligned to Common Core standards, it aims to show how well students are preparing for college at each grade level. Though PARCC was designed to be interactive and taken on a computer, CPS’ third- and fourth-graders still will take a paper version.


PARCC still carries no consequences at CPS, which uses a separate test to evaluate teachers and schools.


For its second year, PARCC has been shortened. It has a simpler format, and results have been promised much sooner than last year — by the summer, rather than late autumn, so that teachers and parents can actually use the results.


Those improvements still won’t stop a number of families in Chicago from skipping it.



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PARCC Testing Begins, But Still No Opt Out Policy, in the Chicago Sun-Times