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New Policy Expected to Send More Children to Summer School by 2015

Photo courtesy of Alex Wroblewski

More children are expected to attend summer school as a result of a controversial policy that was passed by the Chicago Public Schools Board last Wednesday morning.

“It’s a recipe for getting kids to drop out is what it is,” said Vice President Jesse Sharkey of the Chicago Teachers Union to reporters after the meeting.

“Summer school is seen as a punishment for failing a test,” he said.

Sharkey continued to explain that the support systems which are being set up to help students will always fail when they are designed as a punishment.

The strategy adopted by the board will replace the current Illinois Standards Achievement Test by 2015 with a new exam entitled the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers – a test that is “significantly more rigorous than the ISAT or SAT 10,” said Chief of Teaching and Learning for CPS Annette Gurley to the board.

“We’re focusing on supports for the students, especially during this transitional year,” Gurley continued.

According to the preliminary test data released earlier this year by the Illinois Standard Achievement Test, 57.5 percent or 137,143 CPS students did not meet satisfactory standards on reading and math exams.

Several concerned educational activists stepped forward to voice their concerns about the policy as the meeting continued.

“The proposed policy continues to misuse standardized test scores,” said educational activist Jennie Biggs with organization More Than A Score, during the meeting.

“Assessment professionals are clear that single test scores are not reliable or adequate measures of student progress and should not be used for high stakes decisions,” she said. “The tests were not designed for that purpose and should not be used that way.”

Biggs continued,  “The current policy says that for student promotion decisions, test scores should be just one of the many factors considered and probably should receive less weight than factors such as teacher observation, day-to-day classroom performance, maturity level and attitude.”

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