D65 could lose $7 million due to PARCC testing


Preliminary estimates indicate that the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is in danger of losing up to $7 million in state funds due to the refusal of a small number of students to take state-mandated tests.

Administrators estimated Thursday that, to date, 650 of the so-called PARCC tests have been refused. The number of students refusing to take the tests is considerably lower, however, as some are offered up to five different tests.

PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and has been adopted by the State of Illinois to be administered to all public school students in grades 3 through 8.

While the refusal numbers are preliminary estimates that the district says are “conservative,” district administrators noted that “it’s safe to say that the refusal rate has been higher than 5 percent at some District 65 schools and that the refusal rate for the district is likely less than 10 percent.”

Superintendent Paul Goren warned parents in a letter before the testing began that “if more than 5 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 do not take the assessment, District 65 will fail to meet its state accountability obligations and is at risk of losing $7 million in state funds.”

He said, however, that “we will continue to be respectful of a family’s decision for their child to refuse taking the exam.”

Some parents have complained that the schools spend an inordinate amount of time testing, rather than teaching, and have balked at their kids taking the test, even though they and their neighbors may end up paying higher taxes, or suffer cuts in services, or both, as a result of their actions.

The district’s communications coordinator, Melissa Burda Messinger, cautioned that the refusal numbers are only preliminary and that more accurate numbers will not be forthcoming before June.

In  his letter to parents, Goren said that “thus far, there have been no widespread issues related to technology, and the majority of students have been able to complete the testing units successfully.”

More information about the PARCC assessment is available on the district’s website.


Charles Bartling

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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