By Lauren Miller (@)
EDIT (5/17/15): Despite “revocation of licenses of staff members” being listed as a possible sanction, union leaders have made it clear that the only way a teacher can lose their job over PARCC is by actively discouraging students from taking the test.
Forfeiture of $1.7 million dollars in federal funding, loss of Illinois State Board of Education recognition, resulting in a loss of eligibility to participate in IHSA athletics and other activities, and revocation of licenses of staff members. That’s what’s at stake with this round of PARCC testing.
If less than 95 percent of District 214 students participate in the PARCC test, these sanctions may become reality. Principal Michelle Dowling does not blame students, she wants them to be aware.
“I want students to be aware of the decisions they are making and how it affects their lives,” Dowling said. “A lot of students aren’t aware that four of our sister schools get a lot of funding through title funds. … It would be very detrimental to those schools [if they didn’t get that funding].”
In addition to these threats there are many other changes to the test format. One of the key changes is where the test will be administered. Instead of the whole all juniors taking the English portion together, and all algebra students taking the math portion together, students will be divided up by classes and placed in different rooms across the school. Additionally, timing of the test will be different, morning classes (periods 1-4) will take the test from 7:30-10:00, and afternoon classes (periods 5-8) will take it from 12:10-2:40. Students not currently taking the test will attend their normal classes.
Another difference is the refusal policy. Though students still can refuse the test, those students will continue to sit in the room while the test is being administered. Like most standardized tests, cell phones will not be permitted in the rooms, but books are.
One constant though is the media through which the tests are taken. The English test will be on paper and the Algebra test will be on iPads.
Dowling encourages students to take the test even if they do not agree with it. She believes that there are more effective ways for students to make a stance against the PARCC rather than refusing the test.
“I would say that there are ways that we can say that we don’t agree with it that don’t cause negative consequences, and that’s what true leader would do,” Dowling said. “A true leader would contact their government officials and write them letters. I think that would be the better approach … using the democratic process.”
In addition to learning there are alternative methods of protest, Dowling hopes students realize that PARCC sanctions extend beyond Prospect.
“I want to make students aware that we see ourselves as Prospect High School but we really are apart of a bigger community and that we need to be responsible for all our students,” Dowling said. “We all need to be responsible for our fellow brothers and sisters in our communities. … I’m not blaming students here. They just don’t know.”