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CPS cuts standardized test for youngest students

Updated: May 29, 2013 7:05AM

A day after some high school juniors boycotted standardized tests, partly blaming them for school closings, Chicago Public Schools announced thedistrict will cut one of the computerized standardized tests given to its youngest students this year.

As for how many tests kindergartners and first graders will take next year, the district would not say, only that children in kindergarten through second grade will not takethis year’s spring installment of the Measures of Academic Progress for Primary Grades scheduled to begin next week. Second graders will instead sit for a computerized test already given to third to eighth graders called Measures of Academic Progress.

Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett denied that the announcement came as a reaction to recent talk of opting out of tests, including a boycott Wednesday by at least 100 CPS high school juniors, though as recently as Wednesday afternoon district officials said they wouldn’t have any testing changes until May.

Byrd-Bennett said she began reassessing the standardizedtests required by the district in the winter. She wanted to see whether the tests were being used correctly — to guide instruction and measure success.

“Or are we just testing because someone just saidwe should test and assess?” she said.

Parents had complained about the amount of time their children spent taking standardized tests instead of learning. Byrd-Bennett will announce more testing changes for older grades in coming weeks.

The state of Illinois mandates its own exam, the Illinois Standard Achievement Test or ISAT, given to all third to eighth graders every March.

On Wednesday, several hundred high school juniors boycotted school on the day they should have taken the second part of a state-mandated standardized test that partly determines whether they get to go to 12th grade and graduate.

High school juniors were supposed to be taking the Prairie State Achievement Exam, which measures reading, mathematics and science. The young protesters and their parents said they weren’t worried about boycotting because the test has a makeup day in May.

The students protested standardized testing since it’s partly how CPS determined which schools would close and which would be spared.

“We’re just trying to make a statement that tests should not determine our future or the future of our schools,” said student organizer Alexssa Moore, a senior at Lindblom High School.

Signs read, “Don’t test me, bro.”

Earlier this week, the district send home letters to all juniors, and junior parents got a robocall telling them how important the test’s results are to each student’s future.

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