CPS cancels testing for youngest students

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett wants to 'streamline' standardized testing next year.

April 26, 2013

(WBEZ/Becky Vevea)
A group of students, many of them juniors, boycotted the PSAE Wednesday to take a stand against CPS using their scores to make high-stakes decisions about teachers, principals and schools.

Chicago Public Schools cancelled a district-mandated standardized test Thursday amid growing concern about overtesting in the system.

It is unclear if the cancellation will carry over to next year and district officials did not say if any other tests for other grades would be eliminated.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent a letter to parents Thursday informing them that kindergarten and first grade students would not be taking the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) test next week. Second grade students will take a different version of the same test next week so that third grade teachers can understand where they stand academically at the start of next year.

The announcement comes one day after about a hundred high school juniors boycotted the state-mandated Prairie State Achievement Exam. It also comes one week after a group of parents staged a “play in” to protest  the amount of standardized tests in the primary grades.

When asked if the push to opt out or boycott standardized tests played into her decision, Byrd-Bennett said, “no, not at all.”

She said the decision came after several months of meeting with parents and teachers. CPS plans to announce a more complete list of required tests for next year sometime in May.

Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her @WBEZeducation.