Testing Toolkit

2016-2017 Testing Update

Standardized Testing in CPS: 10 Key Questions: Get answers on CPS and state standardized testing policy changes for this school year.

2015-2016 PARCC Opt-Out Info and Toolkit

What do I do if I don’t want my child to take the PARCC?

Write a letter to the school principal that your child will be “refusing the test.” The state board has not yet acknowledged the rights of parents to opt their child out, we recommend you use “student refusal.” (RYH is still pushing for parent opt-out rights to be formally recognized. The bill we worked on, HB306, passed in the House but is stalled in the Senate. We will be advocating for it in the spring session.)  

Sample opt-out letter here: http://bit.ly/PARCCOptOut2016

Does my child need to take the PARCC to graduate?

No. PARCC is not a graduation requirement in Illinois at this time; like last year, districts only needs to administer PARCC in high school to those students in first-year level courses

Will the Chicago Public Schools using this year’s PARCC scores for selective enrollment decisions, school ratings or promotion?

No. CPS is still using NWEA MAP for these high-stakes decisions in elementary school. High school rating will use the ACT.  

What about for 2017/2018 admissions?

The Office of Access and Enrollment has not yet announced what admissions for 2017-2018 will be based on. For now, it is not clear how CPS could fairly use PARCC scores for admissions. Private schools are not using the PARCC, and the PARCC will not provide national percentiles.

Will my school lose funding if a large number of students opt out?

Despite more than 500,000 opt outs last year alone, the US Department of Education has still never penalized any states or districts for having high opt-out rates on state-mandated tests.  The 2001 NCLB Act requires that states “provide for the participation in such assessments of all students”; providing for the participation of does not mean forcing parents and students to participate.

It is likely that federal and state education authorities will continue to threaten to withhold funds as they have in the past, including at the end of 2016. However, given the wide-ranging support for opt out in Illinois and around the country, it would likely be extremely politically damaging for any public servant or elected official to actually do so. We judge the risks for our public school system of continuing to participate in high-stakes standardized testing used for accountability to be greater than the risks of non-participation.  

How will I know how my child is doing in school if they opt out?

Teachers assess students all the time—through the work they do in class, teacher-designed tests and quizzes, projects, class participation and much more. Standardized tests need to be valid and reliable, and the PARCC is neither. PARCC has released no validity studies.

What are the problems with PARCC?

PARCC remains invalid and unreliable. It is expensive. Common Core products are sprouting up all over the place to push schools to spend more money and time on practicing for a test that’s not yet valid. PARCC hasn’t released studies to demonstrate that they’re testing the standards.

PARCC Myths Busted

You Can Choose to Refuse. That’s Your Right as a Parent.