Statement presented at the community meetings on Wednesday April 2nd at McNair, Dvorak, and Gresham Schools. CPS Board of Education will vote on whether to fire all faculty and staff at these schools and hand them over to private operator AUSL. Read more about the problems with AULS’ management of turnaround schools here.
We are speaking on behalf of the organization More Than A Score, a coalition fighting the overuse and misuse of standardized testing in the Chicago Public Schools. We object to all three school actions that CPS plans to carry out this year, that is mass firings of faculty and staff and subsequent handover to a private organization of Dvorak, Gresham, and McNair. CPS justifies these school actions by saying that the schools are “failing”, having been assigned probation status on the basis of their student test scores. Use of standardized test scores to make high-stakes school action decisions is fundamentally flawed. This is principle agreed on by all experts in the field of psychometrics including the National Research Council and the National Council on Measurement in Education. The vast majority of variance seen across schools in standardized test scores is explainable by socio-economic factors, the demographic makeup of the school and the neighborhood it is located in. In addition, even by their own metric—the ISAT scores are illegitimate. The ISAT test is being thrown away after this year by CPS and by the the Illinois State Board of Education, who in its own words has “long standing concerns” about the ISAT and require “assessments that better measure students’ skills.” Independent of how it is measured—single test scores or multiple measures of authentic assessment, real improvement is not accomplished through mass firings. Over and over again, education researchers have found that change and improvement in a school are a slow process. This process requires stability, support, resources and the time to build organizational structures that are the basis for school improvement. It is truly shameful that after more than a decade of failed policies—such as mass firings and turning schools over to private operators—and one year after disrupting thousands of students through mass school closings, Chicago Public Schools Board of Education will once again rubber stamp school actions to destroy school communities serving the most vulnerable children in our city.