Illinois public schools are required by state law to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test in order to track schools’ progress in educating students. And wherever accountability threatens to break the cushy teachers union monopoly, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten can be trusted to complain.
Sure enough, Randi has backed an effort by some Chicago teachers who are members of the radical AFT Local 1—the Chicago Teachers Union, fresh off a 2012 citywide strike—to not follow the law and not administer the test. She said in a statement: “The test is being administered only to fulfill a No Child Left Behind requirement, while more than half of states have sought waivers from such requirements.” Randi went on to complain that the test is pointless, since Illinois will switch to a new curriculum next year.
The Chicago Tribune editors see the situation differently. They note that taking the current test is an important trial run for the new tests next year:
Even if you stipulate that the test results won’t be used for deciding whether to promote the child to the next grade, or for teacher evaluations. The ISAT still offers valuable information for teachers — and parents — on the progress of students. These scores will be an important benchmark against an even more rigorous statewide test, tied to the new Common Core State Standards, next year. If nothing else, the ISAT is excellent practice for that upcoming challenge.
Given that Randi, the AFT, and its ultra-radical Chicago local are adamantly opposed to any sort of accountability in teaching, we have to wonder if there isn’t a sabotaging, ulterior motive to encouraging test refusal. Once again, the Tribune is spot-on in identifying what’s at stake:
We also understand that some teachers balk at tests, because the results will be used to help evaluate teachers’ performance — to gauge whether they’re helping students learn. We hope that boosts the case to pay excellent teachers more, and to usher the weakest educators out the door faster.
You bet the AFT and Randi know that too. So to kill merit pay and keep reward and responsibility from the classroom, they’ll hide behind children and defy state law.