Chicago Teachers Boycott CASE

K-12 Testing

A group of 12 teachers at highly regarded Curie High in Chicago will refuse to administer the controversial Chicago Academic Standards Examination (CASE). The teachers, organized as Curie Teachers for Authentic Assessment, have called on colleagues to join them in the boycott. They said they would administer their own end-of-course exams that would be based on state and city standards.

Curie is the second largest high school in Chicago and one of the most racially diverse. It has won numerous awards for its extensive academic, extra-curricular and sports programs. Substance, a teacher-oriented Chicago newspaper, reported that the 12 Curie teachers are experienced, highly credentialed and recognized for their distinguished teaching.

The tests are administered in various subjects at the end of each semester in the first two years of high school. The school system requires the exams to count as 10% of a student’s grade. In a public letter, the teachers said, “Our primary concern is that the CASE does not reflect the standards for which it was designed, particularly in the subjects of English and Social Studies...[It] only evaluates students on recall and simple comprehension skills,” contrary to the standards. The teachers pointed out that the CASE exams run counter to the city’s new reading initiative, include many “poorly constructed and often inaccurate” questions and answers, and take up far too much teaching time.

Several years ago, a group of Chicago students boycotted the tests (see Examiner, Summer 1999). In 1999, Substance printed some of the recently-administered CASE exams, leading to the firing of Chicago teacher and Substance editor George Schmidt and to a lawsuit against Substance that is pending in federal court (see Examiner, Spring 1999). FairTest staff and independent researcher Gerald Bracey both reviewed the CASE and concluded the exams were among the worst they had ever seen and that Substance had provided a valuable service by enabling the public to review them.

• The Curie letter and an article from Substance are available by clicking here.
• for background, see