CHICAGO — After years of criticism about students being forced to take too many tests, Chicago Public Schools said Wednesday it has decided to reduce the number of mandated tests, including eliminating fall standardized testing.
CPS said it will eliminate 15 district-mandated tests, bringing the number down from 25 to 10. It has removed fall standardized testing for all grades starting this school year.
The schools system said it came to the decision after hearing feedback from community members at 17 focus groups since February. They also incorporated input from 450 teachers who took a CPS survey on how to change district policy, CPS said.
“Our education partners across the district — students, parents, teachers, principals, education stakeholders and researchers — contributed directly to the creation of this sensible, new policy that puts children and their learning first,” CPS boss Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.
“As a former teacher and principal, I felt that our parents and educators raised valid concerns around our testing policy, which is why we launched a rigorous analysis of that policy soon after I became CEO. This reflects their feedback and places a higher value on increased student learning time,” Byrd-Bennett stated.
CPS said it also is trying to transition to Common Core State Standards, a nationwide set of educational standards that has been adopted in some form by Illinois as well as various states across the country.
The standards are meant to be more rigorous than previous curriculums, teach real-world skills and provide a more consistent set of benchmarks for states to adhere to, though they have been the focus of some controversy from those who maintain that teaching should be tailored at the local level, among other concerns.
The new Illinois State Achievement Tests that CPS students take in 2014 will have math and reading assessments designed to adhere to Common Core standards, according to CPS and the Illinois State Board of Education.