Dozens of Chicago Public Schools students skipped school Wednesday on the second day of state-required PSAE exams for high school juniors to boycott the tests.
Students said they are demanding an end to what they call high-stakes testing and calling for a moratorium on the closing of 54 schools.
"CSOSOS [Chicago Students Organizing To Save Our Schools] has organized this boycott to show [Mayor Rahm Emanuel] and the CPS school board that we are over-tested, under-resourced and fed up," said Brian Stirgus, a student at Paul Robeson High School.
Students say planning for such tests takes away from learning time in the classroom and schools are judged too strongly based on test scores. Some parents, who protested alongside their children, agree.
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"No test should define what future holds for our children or place in their minds what they are worth," parent Grace Osinger said.
Alandra Andrande, a student at Curie Metro High School, said the group is holding a peaceful demonstration to take control "of our rights and our future."
Organizers were expecting hundreds to protest but said many backed because of intimidation.
"We had a teacher from our school come out to tell our students that if they didn't take the test today then their ACT would be voided," Armando Rodriguez, a Gage Park High School student, said, "and that's how we lost about six students."
CPS officials say there's reason to be concerned as the exam is too important to miss.
"The only place that students should be during the school day is in the classroom with their teachers getting the education they need to be successful in life," schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett. "Today's PSAE is one of the most critical exams our students will take. Every adult should support and encourage our students to make sure they are in school."