Press release: Testing chaos on big ISAT opt out day

Press release *** For Immediate Release

 March 4, 2014

Press release *** For Immediate Release

March 4, 2014

Contact: David Navarro, CPS parent, 773-403-3798

Julie Woestehoff, More Than a Score, 773-715-3989

Cassie Creswell, CPS parent, MTAS, 716-536-9313

Ferris Akrabawi, teacher, Saucedo, 773-220-8386

Sarah Chambers, teacher. Saucedo, 630-618-9009

ISAT testing chaos

Some opting out students forced to take test, denied paper, pencil, treats, bathroom breaks

Scattered reports of real learning breaking out where teachers refused to give tests

Chicago: Parents, teachers and students gathered this afternoon at Saucedo Elementary School to share their stories of opting out problems, challenges, and opportunities.

Today was the first day of Illinois Standards Achievement Testing (ISAT) for most schools and the situation was chaotic at many schools where students are opting out of the test, with parents reporting a number of problems.

  • At Otis, students whose parents had filed opt out letters were made to take the test because their parents had not met with a network administrator before filing the opt out letter.
  • Some opting out students at Addams were forced to take the test because an administrator said the signatures on the opt out letters were forged by the students. One opting out child at Addams was made to sit in the classroom during the test, denied a bathroom break, and watched their classmates eat treats that were given to the tested children but not those opting out.
  • One opting out student was told she could not have paper and pencil at his desk during the test, and a student at Garvey was not even allowed to read during the test.
  • Several parents reported that principals repeated misinformation that schools would losing money or that CPS could change their minds and go back to using the ISAT for promotion or selective enrollment.


David Navarro, a parent at Addams, said, “My daughter’s class is being given an ice cream party at the end of testing but my daughter and the other opting out students are not invited because they didn’t take the test. All over the school they have anti-bullying posters on the walls, but I feel as if my family is being bullied because of the tests. If they had given us a good reason for taking the ISAT, that would have been fine, but all they gave us was the run around.”

More parent stories available – please call Cassie Creswell at 716-536-9313.

But many opting out students have enjoyed a day of learning, not testing, and many teachers who refused to give the tests were happy to have had the time to teach, not test.

Ferris Akrabawi, an 8th grade teacher at Saucedo, said that by not giving the test, he was able to what he feels he was supposed to be doing: “I taught.” The class continued their study of a transcript of the trial of Mahatma Gandhi. Ferris said that one student even had an “Oh wow!” moment, during the lesson, something that teachers live for.

Sarah Chambers, another Saucedo teacher, was able to give a lesson in Algebra. She called that a victory and a successful day. She also noted that Mayor Emanuel has opted his children out of the ISAT by enrolling them in a private school where they give very few standardized tests.

More Than a Score, which has provided information and support for parents interested in opting their children out of some of the many standardized tests given in CPS this year, collected more than two dozen complaints from parents during the day today, and has added them to the complaint they filed yesterday with the American Civil Liberties Union.

MTAS encourages parents to continue to report problems with opting out to our hot line, 413-3OPTOUT or by email at


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