Ear Hustle

CPS Threatens To Discipline Teachers Refusing To Give ISATs To Students

CPS Superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett has make it clear that teachers who refuse to administer the ISATs to the students will be disciplined accordingly.  In a letter written by the superintendent and sent out to the school principals talked of harsh discipline will be assessed upon teachers who refuse to administer the annual test.  The Chicago Sun-Times obtained a copy of the letter and reports as follows:

CPS threatens to discipline teachers who won’t give students ISAT

BarbarByrd-Bennett chief executive officer for Chicago Public Schools speaks during Wednesday's Chicago Board Educatimeeting.  | Chandler West/For Sun-Times MediaBarbara Byrd-Bennett, chief executive officer for Chicago Public Schools, speaks during Wednesday’s Chicago Board of Education meeting. | Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media

Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett has threatened to discipline any teacher who refuses to administer an annual state achievement test next week, according to a letter obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The letter, sent out Thursday to principals, claims teachers could face the harshest repercussion from boycotting the test — losing their state education certification.

On test day, teachers will be ordered to leave the school building if they refuse to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, according to the letter.

“The Chicago Board of Education will discipline any employee who encourages a student not to take the ISAT or who advocates against the ISAT on work time for insubordination and for any disruption of the educational process,” Byrd-Bennett said in the letter.

The order from the CPS boss comes as teachers at Maria Saucedo Elementary Scholastic Academy unanimously decided to boycott the ISAT — a move that may be the first of its kind in the state.

“Barbara Byrd-Bennett and CPS are afraid of us speaking up — of us voicing our opinion on how these tests are unjust,” said Sarah Chambers, a special education teacher at Saucedo. “We already discussed the potential repercussions and we know that what we are doing is right.”

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey called CPS’ threats “really absurd and harmful” and noted the specific disciplinary measures ordered by Byrd-Bennett are typically used for the most serious infractions.

He said the threat to state certification, which is at the heart of a teachers’ ability to work, is not being taken lightly.

“We’re not taking that as an idle threat,” Sharkey said. “Our lawyers are currently working on that.”

Earlier this week, about 40 teachers at Saucedo agreed they would all refuse to administer the test, which they claim is not used for any gainful purpose within the district.

A different test has replaced the ISAT for school promotion in grades three, six and eight. The other test, the NWEA MAP, also replaces the ISAT for enrollment in selective enrollment schools. The ISAT will be replaced next year by another set of new tests.

Chambers said Thursday that more than 500 students at Saucedo have submitted letters to opt out of the test — that’s about 65 percent of all students required to take the test at that school.

In Thursday’s letter to principals, Byrd-Bennett said the test is not meaningless.

She said the test, which is aligned to Common Core Standards, provides educators “an important first look at how well their students are doing on these more rigorous expectations.”

Byrd-Bennett also told principals that schools with low participation rates on the ISAT may lose federal funding, among other concerns.

And the testing will go on, she said.

If a teacher refuses to give the test, a principal should find another employee to administer it, Byrd-Bennett said.

I personally feel the test are not beneficial to the students.  It’s merely an instrument that controls the federal dollars that are given to the school system.  So realistically there shouldn’t be an issue because the CPS school system is so messed up it would’t matter if every child took the test any funding that comes in isn’t being used properly anyways.  So why punish the teachers for standing up for what they believe in and on behalf of the students they serve.  


Source: Chicago Sun-Times

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