Unelected BOE Statements- 1.25.17: PARCC and LSC Letter #3

Below are two statements made by two CPS parents at January's unelected BOE meeting.

The first statement is about more transparency around standardized testing. Also, which test will be used for selective enrollment admissions for next school year? Beneath the statement is the answer given by Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson.

The second is about Citywide LSC Letter #3 which is addressed to Governor Rauner. LSC members asked CPS to distribute the letter to every LSC member so everyone would have the opportunity to sign. 


Remarks prepared by Catherine Francis

School: Blaine Elementary Parent

Board Meeting: January 25, 2017


Good morning, my name is Catherine Francis and I’m a parent at Blaine Elementary.  Last summer Governor Rauner signed into law Public Act 099-0590. This legislation says that districts will provide within the first 30 school days detailed information about what standardized tests they plan to use for what purposes.


We are well beyond the 30th day of school, and the information available on the ISBE website does not specify which tests will be used for selective enrollment admissions in Chicago. This lack of compliance with state law leaves students and families in limbo about how to best prepare for the admissions process.


If CPS intends to use this spring’s PARCC score as a criterion for admission to selective enrollment high schools or academic centers, it’s unclear how this can be done with any level of fairness. PARCC is not available as an off-the-shelf test to be administered outside of state testing dates. Students enrolled in private or other non-public school arrangements in Illinois can’t take the PARCC. And PARCC does not provide a percentile or a detailed national distribution of scaled scores; so creating equivalency between a score from PARCC and a score from some other test to include in the formula for SE admissions is likely to be arbitrary and not grounded in science. In addition, commercially available tests have extensive test prep services unlike the PARCC test, further disadvantaging CPS students in the SE process.


It is unjust enough that access to a well-resourced high school is meted out to only a small percentage of Chicago students.  To compound that injustice with admissions criteria that are unfair and untransparent is incredibly disrespectful to thousands of students and families undergoing this already extremely stressful process.


Tony Smith has signalled Illinois may stop using PARCC after the 2017-18 school year. Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on consultants to develop new high-stakes formulas for a test that may disappear, we would like to see that money spent on CPS children.  I implore you, tell us what standardized tests will be used for what purpose and do not to use the PARCC test.

After the statement, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson shared that CPS will not be using this year’s PARCC scores for selective enrollment admissions and will use NWEA until “further notice.”


Hello. My name is Andrea Tolzmann and I am a CPS parent and LSC member at Pulaski International School. I am here today representing more than 300 LSC members from over 100 schools across the city who are appealing to Gov. Rauner to stop playing political and financial games with our children’s education and condemning his decision to veto SB 2822. But I am also here today to present the letter to this Board and ask you to partner with us to ensure that LSC members in every school are part of the movement to strengthen our schools and provide a “fair and equitable education” for all students. Our schools will be stronger if we listen and communicate more effectively with each other and we need the Board to be our partners in sharing this letter with every LSC member. So, will you work with us to pass this letter on to all LSC members in CPS? Earlier today, Mr. Claypool mentioned that he wants to work with parents. Included in your handout is information about how you can help distribute this letter to all LSCs citywide.

But, to open these lines of communication, we need for you to hear how LSCs feel about our current level of partnership with this Board. Please hear your school leaders as we tell you that political and financial games don’t provide real solutions. LSC members have been asking you since last summer what plans you had in place to balance the district’s budget with the inevitable failure of state pension reform, yet we still don’t know your plans.

At a July 15 CPS Budget presentation to school leaders, I asked Mr. Claypool what the backup plan was considering the long-standing budget impasse. At that time, he said there was no back-up plan, because he felt confident in Springfield and if they didn’t come through, we could just borrow and there would be no mid-year cuts. Mr. Claypool, do you remember this exchange? Now, mid-way through the school year, CPS has borrowed millions for capital expenditures at very high interest rates while it struggles to adequately fund our existing schools. Borrowing the $215 million is no longer an option, which will result in money cut from taxpayers and classrooms alike.

When I ask this Board to work with LSCs, I am asking for truly open communication. With last week’s announcement of four furlough days, including all the remaining PD days, the Board failed to consider how this cut will affect the CIWP and school goals LSCs are charged with upholding. Eliminating teacher professional development is a cut felt in the classrooms, a missed opportunity for real improvement.

Mid-year cuts have indeed already begun. Will you partner with us so that together we can show our Governor and other elected officials that we are serious about educating our students by raising per pupil funding levels, providing up-to-date resources and ensuring there is enough staff to support the whole child? This Board and the LSCs across the city want to send Springfield the strong, unified message that ALL of our students have a right to “a fair and equitable” education. If we work together effectively and make meaningful progress towards this goal, then Springfield will have to do their part, too.

Thank you.

There was email communication about this between Andrea and the Office of LSC Relations on Thursday, January 26. We will update this post if or when CPS shares this letter with all LSC members citywide.

Citywide LSC Letter #3 in English: http://bit.ly/RaunerLSCLtrFINAL

Citywide LSC Letter #3 in Spanish: http://bit.ly/RaunerLSCLtrSpanish

Are you currently on a LSC? Sign on to Citywide LSC Letter #3 using the link below.

Sign on using this form: http://bit.ly/RaunerLSCLtr3