Monday, March 16, 2015


Lies, Misconceptions and Deception Behind PARCC Test
By Neal Resnikoff
Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice

A lot of misinformation and outright lies have been spread about student rights to refuse to take the Common Core PARCC test.   At Von Steuben High School, for example, students were told this week they had no right to opt out, that they had to take the PARCC test, and that the school would lose money if they did not take the test. Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace issued a rebuttal leaflet a few days later, giving evidence of how the students had been given misinformation or lies, and what the background of the situation is. This is reprinted below. 
In the midst of all this, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), obviously shaken by the opt out movement, has thrown up new dust and confusion. On Thursday they decided to change the rules of the testing procedures. They said that students who opt out of tests will no longer be considered to be excused. That is, the former acknowledgement  that students have a right to opt out of a test is being changed by the ISBE. This is to once again throw up the spectre that schools with opting out students will lose federal or state money.
But, those knowledgeable about federal rules and regulations say this change cannot conceivably effect federal funding to Chicago schools. ISBE has not specified any financial threat tied to this change in regulations. But changing rules in the middle of a game is well known to be an unsportsmanlike move, though what IBOE has done goes well beyond unsportsmanlike behavior. “Dastardly” might be a more appropriate adjective.
We should not let this deter us from pursuing our opposition to the corporate Common Core standards and the tests being given by the private consortium know as Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, PARCC (or known by another name when the acronym is spelled backwards). --Neal 
We understand that Von Steuben administrators and others have been telling students they must take the PARCC test, and that the school will lose funding if students opt out. 
This is not true:
Ÿ  Students DO have a right to opt out of taking the PARCC test-- or any state-mandated standardized test, and this is acknowledged by the Illinois State Board of Education and  the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd Bennett.
Ÿ  There is no legitimate basis for Von Steuben (or any other school) to lose any funding if students opt out of taking the PARCC tests.
Ÿ  Anyone who says students have no right to opt out of taking the PARCC tests or that the school will lose funding if the students opt out is either misinformed or is lying.
Here is evidence to back up what we are saying:
1. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) lists a student's refusal to take a mandated state test (such as PARCC) in a list of acceptable reasons for a student not taking a state-required test. It is listed as Code 15. This list can be found at State Board of Education clearly recognizes that students may refuse to participate in testing, that is, may opt-out.
2. CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd Bennett, acknowledged the right of students to refuse to participate in testing in a letter March 2, 2015 to school principals. In this letter she says, "If the student refuses to engage in the test, Test Administrators may remove the test materials from the student’s testing space (either booklet or test ticket) and may allow the student to engage in a silent, student-guided instructional activity.... Allowed activities: Students may engage in personalized learning, silent reading, drawing, writing or other school work....  Managing large numbers of student refusals: If a school anticipates large numbers of students will refuse to test, they may place these students in a large common area (e.g. cafeteria) during testing time, after following through with presentation of test materials.  Students may then engage in silent, self-guided activities."  (This letter can be found at )
3. The Illinois State Board of Education told the Chicago Board of Education there would be no financial punishment as long as the Chicago Board made a good faith effort to administer the tests to students (See the citation above, the Bennett letter of March 2). Under Code 15 of the ISBE, a test is considered as "administered" if the test is presented to the student and then s/he refuses to take the test.
Why are many administrators and others in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois and the country spreading dis-information about the issue of opting out of tests associated with the Common Core standards (or with other high-stakes tests used to punish or eliminate teachers and public schools)?
     Those who are pushing the Common Core PARCC tests are, in one way or another, carrying out the plans of the big corporations from the National Business Roundtable, such as Exxon Mobil and Ford. Private corporations want to use public schools to develop a narrow education to train students to become compliant workers for their corporations or obedient soldiers. Tests aligned with Common Core are part of this training as well as a means of check-up to see if students are learning what corporations think they should learn.
     The National Business Roundtable has, for 26 years, been discussing how to get students "ready for college and careers" using high-stakes testing (See /education/campaigns/BRT.html).  They were able to influence politicians whose election campaigns they funded to start the process with “No Child Left Behind,” under President Bush, and “Race to the Top,” under President Obama.
    Eventually, in 2009, the corporate leaders picked 29 people, mainly from testing corporations, rather than from among classroom teachers and professional educators, to create arbitrary Common Core standards for each grade from kindergarten through grade 12. This was done without using the internationally accepted methods for setting standards: transparency, balance, consensus, due process. (See
     And they linked the standards with tests such as those created by the Partnership for Academic  Readiness for College and Careers. PARCC is a multi-state, non-elected private body, not accountable to the public.
     PARCC decided to set the passing grades so high that only 30% of students will pass the tests--as happened in NY state. This can mean that public schools will be declared “failures” and turned over to private businesses to be run as charter schools--with great harm to students, parents, and teachers.
     Tests, classroom materials, computers, etc required by Common Core are expected to double the profits of ed-tech corporations---to $13.4 billion by 2017. Common Core also involves hiring data collection corporations to collect vast amounts of private data on students and their families that can be  made available to others outside the schools without the knowledge or permission of students and their parents.
     A rapidly growing number of teachers, parents, and students across the U.S. are against what private corporations are doing to public education. Tens of thousands are opting out of the tests linked to the Common Core standards. The Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates voted unanimously against the Common Core standards, and voted to oppose PARCC and urge opting out of these tests.
     Preparing students to take the tests reduces time for art, music, creativity, physical education,  languages, etc. And the standards do not leave time for broad thinking about injustices in society.
The underlying question is: Who should decide what kind of public education and assessment is needed?  Should it be educators, parents and other working people--or big corporations with their private agendas for how to make maximum profits, no matter what?
     Today in the U.S.,  in order to build a modern democracy, we need open public debate and discussion about what kind of public education we want.  The people will then be in a position to decide and can direct professional educators to draw up detailed plans to go forward.  This is the path for beginning to develop public education that is of, by and for the people.
     Right now, in Chicago, we can empower ourselves by participating with others in the fight against the PARCC tests. We encourage open discussion and debate about this in Von Steuben.
     Please call or e-mail us to describe your experiences and raise questions, and to get updates and information about actions.
           This leaflet is from Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice,  

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