Pritzker Parents Join Citywide Petition Against 'High Stakes' Testing

By Alisa Hauser on February 7, 2013 10:20am 

 Rachel Lessem, left, assists Christina Nelson with signing a petition against 'High Stakes Standardized Tests' in front of Pritzker School in Wicker Park Wednesday.   Both women are parents of Pritzker students.
Rachel Lessem, left, assists Christina Nelson with signing a petition against 'High Stakes Standardized Tests' in front of Pritzker School in Wicker Park Wednesday.   Both women are parents of Pritzker students.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK —  It was an easy sell for the small army of clipboard-armed petitioners standing outside Pritzker School getting signatures from parents Wednesday. 

Fed up with standardized tests, a number of parents of children enrolled in CPS public schools across the city are making their feelings clear about 'high stakes' standardized tests. 

Created by coalition MoreThanaScoreChicago.org, the petition calls for an elimination of standardized testing for children from preschool to second grade and asks the Board of Education to provide more details about the 22 tests administered at schools within the district as well as the nature of the tests and costs.

Petitioner Rachel Lessem, 39, reported that 65 Pritzker parents had signed the paper petition, which augment the coalition's online petition of over 2,700 signatures. 

"Kids are more than a test score, teachers are more than a test score and schools are more than a test score," Lessem said. 

Lessem opted her second grader out of standardized testing because she felt that it was not good for the child's growth . She hopes that other parents will opt out their children from standardized testing, too.

According to Lessem, her daughter's second grade classroom must complete four tests three times yearly, which equates to 14 days of testing per year out of a 184-day school year, since some tests take longer than a day.

This number, Lessem added, does not account for computer glitches, which have dragged testing on for as long as a month at some schools, or if a child is absent on the day of the test.

Fourth grade Pritzker teacher Lisa Parker, 35, said she questions whether testing is the best way to make a school accountable and added that "too much reliance on testing can be dangerous because tests are not foolproof."

CPS officials responded to a request for comment with a statement via email:

"These tools are critical not only for measuring student growth, but to help teachers and principals identify the unique academic needs of students to help them be successful in the classroom."

 Parent Kristene Richardson, center, signs a petition against 'High Stakes Standardized Testing' outside Pritzker School Wednesday.  Parents at 36 Chicago Public Schools went petitioning Wednesday, in hopes of getting the Board of Education to limit its array of standardized tests that some believe have taken too much time away from other classroom.
Parent Kristene Richardson, center, signs a petition against 'High Stakes Standardized Testing' outside Pritzker School Wednesday.  Parents at 36 Chicago Public Schools went petitioning Wednesday, in hopes of getting the Board of Education to limit its array of standardized tests that some believe have taken too much time away from other classroom.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

In addition to Pritzker School at 2009 W. Schiller St., petitioners stood outside more than 30 neighborhood schools Wednesday, including Bucktown's Pulaski School, 2230 W. McClean Ave. and Drummond Montessori, 1845 W. Cortland St.

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