PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – A bill that would prevent young children from taking standardized tests in Illinois has cleared another legislative hurdle.
Thursday, the Illinois House passed HB5285, otherwise known as the Too Young to Test Act. The legislation was spearheaded by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago), State Rep. Lindsey LaPointe (D-Chicago), and strongly backed by Illinois Families for Public Schools.
The bill would prohibit the Illinois State Board of Education from developing, funding, or requiring standardized testing for Pre-K through 2nd-grade students.
“Just even understanding a multiple choice question when you’re under the age of 8, it’s not going to tell you what kids know and what they can do, and there are much better ways to assess that teachers have at their disposal,” said Cassie Creswell, director of Illinois Families for Public Schools.
Nearly a year ago, Creswell said ISBE introduced a proposal that would increase standardized assessments for kids grades 3-8.
“On top of that, it would basically expand the state testing system into K-2,” Creswell said.
Under the State Board of Education’s proposal, testing for K-2nd grade students would be optional, but Creswell said optional doesn’t always hold up to its definition.
“If you have optional tests but they’re preparing you for obligatory tests, they basically end up being de facto required,” Creswell said.
Peoria County Regional Superintendent Beth Crider said standardized assessments have been shown to create additional stress on students.
“And that doesn’t stop with children. We have the testing center here and we see testing anxiety all of the time. So are you truly getting a measure of what someone knows if they have testing anxiety?” Crider said
Crider added that educators want to get away from teaching for tests, and instead help develop children into critical thinkers.
“It’s not about that one moment in time. Can you think in different ways? That’s what we want to know,” Crider said.
The bill would not restrict locally selected and funded testing, as well as testing used to screen for disabilities.