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At the beginning of March, Chicago School District 109 Superintendent Mike Lubelfeld posted a video on YouTube urging parents and students to take the controversial standardized PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test.

Although students had been the ability to opt out of the test — with plenty of support from parents and school officials as well — Lubelfeld stated that it was imperative to have at least 95% of Illinois students willingly take the test, lest the school district lose significant federal funding due to a lack of student participation.

But despite the superintendent’s message — which was one of many messages from Illinois education officials regarding the PARCC — the Chicago Tribune has reported that hundreds of Illinois students in more than 80 individual Chicago Public Schools have opted out of the test.

According to the Tribune, the PARCC is based on other standardized tests like the Common Core and ISAT. And just as those tests have been considered outdated and ineffective, the PARCC has become equally as controversial.

“The PARCC exams arrive amid growing criticism at least partially due to the large amount of time required to take them,” the Tribune explains. “Anticipated and actual technology glitches further complicate the issue.”

Although school board members and administrators throughout the state have openly questioned the test’s usefulness, they have still encouraged students to take the test regardless.

State officials had already warned weeks ago that if more than 5% of Illinois students decided to opt out of the PARCC, the state could lose a significant amount of federal funding for its public schools — meaning essential extracurricular programs like theater productions and sports teams, which have become integral parts of high school life and encourage community involvement, could face dramatic downsizing. Some five million students participate in athletics programs associated with schools each year.

For Lubelfeld’s school district, this could mean that the district will lose as much as $1 million in funding. Additionally, Lubelfeld noted, a lack of participation could reflect badly on the entire community and school district — especially since the PARCC is technically mandated by the state (despite not being factored into students’ grades, graduation rates, or acceptances into college).

“I don’t see the need for [the PARCC],” Lubelfeld stated. “It’s not our choice but simply a fact that property values and community status are dependent upon our performance on this assessment.”

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