By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Ray Elementary School’s local school council announced that it is joining Murray Elementary, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and other schools across the nation that are seeking to put an end to high stakes testing.
At its March meeting, the local school council (LSC) at Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., voted to sign a resolution showing its support of Time Out From Testing (TOFT), a national campaign that is seeking to put an end to the way standardized tests are used to determine student promotion and teacher evaluation. The local branch of TOFT, More Than A Score, has been leading a campaign encouraging parents to use their right to “opt-out” or refuse to allow their children to be given standardized tests. The vote to support the campaign was unanimous, although the school’s interim principal was not in attendance so did not vote on the matter.
“What stood out to us the most was the inadequacy in measuring,” said Don Willard, co-chair of the Ray LSC, who said those who developed the tests have recommended that they not be used to determine student promotion and teacher evaluation.
Willard said Ray is not against having accountability measures but after speaking with a Boston University professor who helped develop a program for one of the standardized tests he said, “right now there is no reason to have testing at the high-stakes level.”
In the resolution the school is calling on the governor, state legislature and state Board of Education to re-examine how it uses tests results and develop a new system that does not rely heavily on standardized tests to determine student learning and teacher effectiveness.
The resolution also calls for an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act, which would reduce the number of mandated tests, the strict set of guidelines toward preparing for the tests and fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.