- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - More than a million students are scheduled to take new standardized tests next week, despite concerns from Illinois’ largest school district.

Illinois State Board of Education officials announced Monday that third- to eighth-graders and some high school students will take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers assessment. They say it reflects the demands of new learning standards.

However, Chicago Public Schools officials initially said they’d opt out of giving the test to a majority of students. CPS changed course on Monday, saying they’d administer it to the district’s 230,000 eligible students.

District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said there was the possibility of losing millions in funds otherwise, though she still didn’t feel administering the tests was in students’ best interest.

The Illinois State Board of Education said Friday that Chicago schools could see $1.4 billion in state and federal money be withheld if it didn’t comply, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

“I continue to personally and professionally believe that to administer PARCC this year is absolutely not in the best interests of our students,” Byrd-Bennett said in a conference call with reporters. “However, given the threat from ISBE, there is absolutely no choice that I can present to this board and to our community.”

The Chicago Teachers Union and parent groups object to the exams over concerns of too much emphasis on tests. They’re working to show how parents can have children not take the PARCC assessment.

“You should do both your kid and your kid’s teacher a favor and take them out of this dumb test,” Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey told the Chicago Tribune.

The Illinois State Board of Education said in a news release that the PARCC assessment replaces the Illinois Standards Achievement Test and the Prairie State Achievement Examination. The board said the PARCC assessment was tested by about 111,000 Illinois students last spring, and by more than 1 million students in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

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