CPS Reduces Number of District Required Student Tests as Part of New, Streamlined Assessment Policy 

Parents, teachers, principals and other key stakeholders inform new CPS assessment policy aimed to increase student instructional time


August 7, 2013


Guided by the input of parents, teachers, students and principals, Chicago Public School (CPS) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced today the elimination of 15 District-mandated tests including elimination of fall standardized testing for all CPS grades as part of the District’s new, streamlined assessment policy. This school year, CPS will require 10 District-mandated standardized tests across all grades, a decrease from 25 District-mandated standardized tests last school year. The new policy will provide school leaders and teachers with more autonomy in establishing assessments that help teachers develop instructional plans and align assessments with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to increase student learning time.


Since February, CPS has hosted 17 focus groups with principals, teachers, parents, education advocates and researchers to gather feedback on the new assessment policy while incorporating input from 450 teachers who responded to a CPS survey on how to best modify the District’s assessment policy.


“Our education partners across the District – students, parents, teachers, principals, education stakeholders and researchers – contributed directly to the creation of this sensible, new policy that puts children and their learning first,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett. “As a former teacher and principal, I felt that our parents and educators raised valid concerns around our testing policy, which is why we launched a rigorous analysis of that policy soon after I became CEO. This reflects their feedback and places a higher value on increased student learning time.”


The new assessment policy builds on the District’s April announcement of eliminating the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress for Primary Grades (MPG) assessment for kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade students. Beginning in SY13-14, the annual assessment calendar will limit standardized District testing to the spring for grades two through eleven and offer schools flexibility to select interim measures to monitor progress.


Each school’s Instructional Leadership Teams—made up of teachers and school administrators—will be required to identify interim tests from either a District-provided menu of “school choice assessments” or alternate tests of their choice with the requirement that they are aligned to the CCSS, and engage students in activities that require critical thinking, writing and problem-solving.


The emphasis on CCSS in the new assessment policy mirrors state-level efforts to transition to these new, more rigorous academic standards. Starting next school year, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will administer a fully CCSS-aligned Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) to students in grades three through eight. The new ISAT will begin to prepare Chicago students for the full transition to the CCSS, which is scheduled for all grades starting in school year 2014-15.


A full list of District-required tests for 2013-2014 is below, followed by a list of the tests that will be eliminated starting next school year.


 Grades Assessment Required Adminstration Timing  Purpose 
 K-2 Schools are required to monitor early literacy progress with 1 tool. CPS will support MPG and TRC/DIBELS. Schools can choose another tool.  Flexible window to accomodate indivdual assessment: Aug-Oct, Nov-Feb, May-June. Ensure schools have a research-based and comprehensive way to monitor early literacy, critical for ensuring students don't fall off-track early. 
 2-8 Measures of Academic Progress (MAP): Common Core version   Spring: May Measure of whether students are meeting grade level learning and year-to-year growth expectations. Also a factor in teacher, principal and school evaluation/
 3-8  IL Standards Achievement Test (ISAT)  Early March Required by IL State Board of Education (ISBE) for all 3-8 students in IL.
 9-10  EXPLORE-9, PLAN-10  Mid-May Measure of whether students are meeting grade level learning and year-to-year growth expectations. Also a factor in teacher, principal and school evaluation. 
 11  PSAE  Late April Required by ISBE. ACT growth is also a factor in teacher, principal and school evaluation.
 7-12 Alternative School Students only  STAR  Sept, Jan, May Used in place of NWEA or EPAS to measure whether students in Alternative Schools are meeting grade level learning and within year growth expectations. Also a factor in teacher, principal and school evaluation.
 PK-12  REACH Performance Tasks  October, May  Measures baseline and growth information on activity-based skills not easily assessed with traditional multiple choice tests. Results used in teacher evaluation/
 K-12 ELLs only  ACCESS Jan-Feb  Required by ISBE. Measures English language development. 


Eliminated required tests:

  • MPG for K-2 (five tests)
  • Fall MAP for 3-8 grade (six tests)
  • EXPLORE for 8th grade (one test)
  • Fall EPAS for 9-11 grade (three tests)


Total District-required tests eliminated: 15 tests


About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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Page Last Modified on Wednesday, August 07, 2013