LITTLE VILLAGE — A group of teachers at a Little Village grade school went through with their plan to refuse to give students a state achievement test Tuesday despite warnings from Chicago Public Schools officials that the action could carry repercussions.
Sarah Chambers, a fifth-year special education teacher at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy, confirmed Tuesday that a majority of the 40 teachers that had originally planned the boycott followed through and did not administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) Tuesday morning.
"It's chaos here," Chambers said via text message. "Network [people] and security everywhere."
Despite the boycott, the students were given the test starting at 10 a.m., Chambers said, although it wasn't immediately clear who administered it.
No media was allowed inside the school Tuesday, and CPS officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
While Chambers said previously that Saucedo teachers could be at risk of losing their jobs over the boycott, Tuesday morning she said teachers who refused to pass out the test were allowed to stay and teach class for those students who had chosen not to take the exam.
Last month, CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett had sent a letter to teachers stating: "Parents should be informed that there will be no alternate instruction given during the assessment and that children who are not being assessed will be required to engage in a silent, self-guided activity while their peers are being tested."
Students are allowed to opt out of taking the ISAT — which is being phased out this school year — as long as parents give consent. But both Chambers and Cassie Creswell, of the anti-standardized testing parent group More Than a Score, said that Saucedo parents had received robo-calls this past weekend urging them to have students take the test.
Chambers said during Tuesday's testing, all students — even those who were not taking the ISAT — were given a test booklet.
Outside the school Tuesday morning, Rosalia Tzintzun said her younger sister, a fourth grader at Saucedo, would not be taking the ISAT test.
Tzintzun said her family received a voicemail from CPS that stressed the ISATs were a way for teachers to measure classroom progress.
"I guess if we all just talked about it, it would be better than [teachers] actually having to boycott, but I mean I guess a lot of people want to be heard, so that's one way of doing it," Tzintzun, 27, said.
Maria Gomez, who said her grandson, a fifth grader, would not be taking the ISAT, said there were about 10 security guards standing inside the school's entrance Tuesday morning.
"They're treating our teachers like criminals," said Gomez, a former teacher at Saucedo. "[The security guards] are just standing there, looking stupid, when they should be out here protecting our kids."
Around a dozen CPS parents held a news conference Monday afternoon to challenge that decision, which is reinforced by an Illinois Board of Education policy.
In a statement sent Monday, Byrd-Bennett said teachers are required to give the test, which CPS is required to administer.
"The district is committed to administering the exam and expects all CPS employees to fulfill their responsibilities to ensure we are in compliance with the law," she said.
Saucedo's principal, Isamar Vargas Colon was not available for comment Tuesday.