Some District 214 students boycotting PARCC tests

  • Students at Marlowe Middle School take the state's new standardized test, PARCC, Tuesday in Lake in the Hills.

      Students at Marlowe Middle School take the state's new standardized test, PARCC, Tuesday in Lake in the Hills. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Not all Northwest Suburban High School District 214 juniors are taking the new PARCC tests being administered this week.

    Not all Northwest Suburban High School District 214 juniors are taking the new PARCC tests being administered this week.

 
 
Updated 3/19/2015 12:43 PM

An undetermined number of students in Northwest Suburban High School District 214 have refused to take the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests being rolled out statewide this month, officials said.

And the boycotting juniors will not face any consequences, officials said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

On Wednesday, a "large" number of students at Rolling Meadows High School refused to take the PARCC test, District 214 spokeswoman Jen Delgado confirmed. Some students at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights declined on Monday, and Buffalo Grove and Prospect high schools have also had students refuse.

Compliance at Wheeling and Elk Grove high schools has been nearly 100 percent, she said.

One report said "hundreds" of District 214 students refused to be tested this week, but Delgado would not confirm a number.

District 214 is administering the PARCC tests even though the school board passed a resolution that opposes the testing. Their view is that the test has no influence on a student's future like the ACT test does. But they say they have to give it or risk losing funding.

Delgado said no one at District 214 suggested students should boycott the PARCC.

"We never encourage anyone to refuse," Delgado said. "We have planned to test all of the students and implement PARCC with fidelity."

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The boycotting students checked in for the test, but when they were handed their booklets they told the proctor they were refusing.

Then they handed in a sheet of paper they all signed, declaring they would not be testing, Delgado said.

No boycotting students could be reached Wednesday, but Delgado said she heard some students say anecdotally the test was not "relevant, and that they would prefer to study for their upcoming AP exams or that they had recently taken the ACT."

The boycotting students were allowed to go back to their regularly scheduled classes and will not face any consequences for refusing to take the test, she said.

Delgado said District 214 has notified the Illinois State Board of Education about the refusals and is working with them going forward.

There will be additional PARCC testing dates in April for school districts throughout the suburbs. This is the first year of PARCC testing for third- through 10th graders statewide. High schools in Illinois are testing freshmen or juniors only this spring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

ISBE spokeswoman Mary Fergus said officials will not know how many students refused the test statewide until after the April/May testing period is completed.

"Illinois alone more than 798,000 tests have been completed, and across the (PARCC) consortium it's 4.4 million tests completed in either English or math to date," she added.

The PARCC consortium comprises 11 states and the District of Columbia.

At Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211, officials are not reporting similar student boycotts, spokesman Tom Petersen said Wednesday.

At the state's second largest school district, less than 20 students refused to take the PARCC test, said Laura Hill, Elgin Area School District U-46 director of assessment and accountability.

"We tested 21,000 so that's quite minimal," she said.

Hill said building principals were asked to have a deeper conversation with the parents of those children who refused the test, which in some cases involved special needs students.

"Testing in general for special education students can be frustrating," Hill said. "Testing, for many of those students, becomes a high anxiety situation. They may not have the same coping mechanism."

Those students' individualized education programs could require extended time on tests or to have their tests read to them, which would have been accommodated with PARCC as with its predecessor, the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, Hill added.

"(PARCC) It's for everybody. It's always been that same way," Hill said.

Parents had to inform school officials in advance, if their child was not going to take the test. Students who refused had to do so on testing day.

U-46 officials haven't talked about imposing sanctions on students who skipped PARCC this month.

Per state guidelines, 95 percent participation in PARCC is required from individual school districts.

"It's the threshold that they've always had," Hill said. "The state doesn't know the full impact yet so they are not even in discussion of what (the repercussions) would be for the district."

Read more about how students are using social media to boycott the PARCC test.

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