Chicago Public Schools sent a letter to principals threatening harsh discipline against any teachers who refuse to administer the Illinois Standard Achievement Test, scheduled to start next week.
The letter says teachers should be ordered out of the school and may have their state certification revoked if they do not give the state-mandated ISAT test.
CPS released a statement Friday that said in part: "State officials reaffirmed that the I-SAT test is mandated by state and federal law and failure to comply puts government funding at risk, including Title-one funds aimed to help children from low-income families."
The order comes as teachers at Drummond in Bucktown decided this week to boycott the test. But the Chicago Teachers Union called the threat by the school board, "really absurd and harmful."
Standardized tests have come under scrutiny in recent years. Many parents and teachers say kids are spending too much time preparing for the tests and not enough time actually learning. The ISAT is also being replaced with a new test next year.
"We are telling the district to get real, to listen to parents who say that this testing is out of control," the CU's Jesse Sharkey said Friday. "We urge everyone in this district to adopt a saner attitude toward testing and to get back to the business of learning in our schools."
CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the test is not meaningless. She said it provides an important first look at how well students are doing.
The letter said the threat to take away state certification is not being taken lightly, noting the specific disciplinary measures are typically used for the most serious infractions.
The teachers union says they do not believe teachers can actually be de-certified for taking the stand against the test.