Chicago teachers at Saucedo Elementary vote unanimously to boycott the Illinois Standards Achievement Test: We scrapped the MAP! You can Ice the ISAT!
A beautiful thing happened today. Teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy voted unanimously to refuse to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT).
Since teachers at Garfield High School—and then several other schools in Seattle—voted to boycott the MAP test last year, there has been an explosion of activism against high-stakes, standardized tests. And yet outside of Seattle, there had not yet been another school where the entire staff collectively raised their voice and boycotted a test—that is until now.
The brave teachers at Saucedo Elementary are taking up the struggle and using the power of collective action to refuse to waste students’ valuable class time with another destructive test. As the teachers have pointed out, getting rid of the ISAT would leave the students with still a plethora of standardized tests, including the MAP tests, new Interim Benchmark Tests, REACH Performance Tasks, ACCESS tests, NAEP tests, pilot Common Core tests and more. Already, hundreds of parents at Saucedo have pledged to opt their child out of the ISAT.
With the Parents and teachers united in this struggle, Saucedo is now on the front lines in the battle for authentic assessment. They will need our support. Please take a minuet and sign the petition in the defense of the Saucedo educators—then send it on to everyone you know who believes that education should be about critical thinking, imagination, joy, and collaboration—not about rote memorization and eliminating wrong answer choices.
From my experience in helping to organize the MAP boycott in Seattle, here is the advice I have for the Saucedo teachers:
Corporate education reformers will use their wealth to publicize the idea that you teachers are selfish and your refusal to give the test will damage students. They will complain that teachers don’t want to be held accountable and that high-stakes standardized is the key to improving education. Don’t listen to them. They are pushing these tests because it is a multibillion dollar industry and because reducing the intellectual process of teaching and learning to a single score is the centerpiece of their plan to label the public schools as failing and then push their privatizing agenda. Instead, listen to the many thousands of parents, students, and teachers around the nation that are supporting you in this struggle to assert that our children and educators are more than a test score.
The corporate education reformers, and the politicians they have bought, will issue threats of discipline for your audacity in refusing to hand the schools over to testing companies. They threatened us in Seattle when we refused to give the MAP test, but we showed that the power of solidarity can overcome the powerful. Not a single teacher was disciplined and the MAP test was made optional through our struggle.
We scrapped the MAP. You can Ice the ISAT!
TESTING RESISTANCE & REFORM SPRING: A new national coalition coordinating the uprising against standardized testing!
I am excited to announce that a new national coalition has formed for the purpose of encouraging an uprising against standardized testing this spring. Dubbed the “Testing Resistance and Reform Spring,” some of the most prominent national grassroots organizations in defense of public education have joined together in this effort, including FairTest, Network for Public Education, Parents Across America, Save Our Schools, and United Opt Out.
After months of organizing, we now have a website that allows anyone to upload information about their action to challenge high stakes test and punish policy, enter their zip code and find people in their area who may be interested in organizing an event, download materials to aid in their efforts, and much more.
I encourage everyone who follows this blog to help organize or participate in some action against the testing-industrial-complex this spring. Hold a movie showing, leaflet at your school, start a petition, refuse to teach to the test, opt your child out, boycott a test. Invite others to join your action by posting it on our new website, and be part of perhaps the largest revolt against high-stakes standardized testing in U.S. history.
Check out the details about this new initiative:
The U.S. can do a much better job evaluating children, teachers and schools. That’s why protests against standardized testing misuse and overuse are exploding across the nation. Testing Resistance & Reform Spring (TRRS) seeks to ensure that assessment contributes to all students having access to a high-quality education. FairTest is a founding partner. Our alliance unites around three goals:
1) Stop high-stakes use of standardized tests;
2) Reduce the number of standardized exams, saving time and money for real learning; and
3) Replace multiple-choice tests with performance-based assessments and evidence of learning from students’ ongoing classwork.
We support a range of public education and mobilizing tactics, including community meetings, boycotts, opt-out campaigns, rallies, petition drives and legislation. TRRS will help activists link up, communicate and learn from one another. This will build a stronger national movement to overhaul assessment policies.
Our new, action-oriented website — https://actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/testing-resistance-reform-spring-less-testing-more-learning OR http://tinyurl.com/TestingReformSpring — will provide resources for the campaign’s success. It includes downloadable fact sheets, how-to-do-it guides, and much more. A mapping tool will make it easy for parents, students, teachers and community organizers to post and find local actions anywhere in the United States. (For your event to be visible on the map and searchable by zip code, you must use this link/page.)
We invite activists to use our site and for groups to join TRRS as Partners; for more information, see https://actionnetwork.org/groups/testing-resistance-reform-spring/files/1215/download.
TRRS fact sheets and a list of partners is at our Mission statement; see https://actionnetwork.org/groups/testing-resistance-reform-spring.