032922HAO01273CHICAGO – To prevent developmentally inappropriate standardized tests from being administered to young children, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) championed the Too Young to Test Act, which was signed into law on Friday.

“Standardized testing has historically served to keep groups out of institutions, and we know that the value and validity in our education system of using these assessments are highly questionable,” said Pacione-Zayas. “This law acknowledges well-established brain science research that asserts the fluidity of child development during the early years rendering standardized tests as developmentally inappropriate. Further, it lives up to the Governor’s vision of Illinois as the best state in the nation for families raising young children.”

The new law, formerly known as Senate Bill 3986, ensures the Illinois State Board of Education does not develop, require, or purchase standardized tests for students Pre-K through second grade, except for the case of diagnostic and screening tests including determining eligibility for special education services, bilingual services, dyslexia interventions, observational tools like the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, and the federally mandated English Learner assessments.

"The Too Young to Test bill is not only about protecting our youngest learners from the harms of rigorous standardized assessments, but it also ensures we use our state educational resources on research-based approaches that truly support students and teachers," said House sponsor of the law, State Rep. Lindsey LaPointe (D-Chicago). "I am proud and grateful to have championed this bill with Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas and our tireless advocates."

Currently, the federal government only mandates standardized tests from third grade and on, although ISBE is currently considering allowing optional standardized tests for younger students.

"Standardized testing used for annual accountability purposes in older grades is not valid and reliable for children under age 8. It's not required by federal law, and it's not wanted by the majority of parents and educators who know that standardized testing isn't developmentally appropriate in early childhood,” said Cassie Creswell, director of Illinois Families for Public Schools. “We need to protect those years from further encroachment by high-stakes tests."

The Too Young to Test Act was signed into law on Friday. It takes effect immediately.

 

Category: Press Releases

open 208368 1920CHICAGO – Nearly 160 businesses in the district represented by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas received a total of $5.58 million in financial assistance through the Back to Business program.

“Small business are the heartbeat of our communities, and so many have struggled during these last two years,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “The B2B program has helped businesses keep their doors open in such unprecedented times.”

The B2B grants are awarded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity using funds allocated to them by the American Rescue Plan through last year’s state budget.

DCEO has provided $250 million in B2B grants to small businesses throughout the state, with an emphasis on hard hit sectors, such as restaurants, bars, barbershops and salons, with an emphasis on providing support to disproportionately impacted areas.

“From our favorite restaurants and shops, to other important businesses like gyms and art galleries, the B2B program has kept our neighborhoods economically robust,” Pacione-Zayas said. “I am excited to be able to continue to support these business as we continue toward recovery.”

Due to fiscal responsibility, the state saw an increase in funds available to assist small businesses.

Pacione-Zayas urges small businesses to visit the DCEO website for additional resources or contact DCEO’s First Stop Business Information Center Services at 800-252-2923 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Category: Press Releases

Gifts Of HopeCHICAGO – Coinciding with Mother’s Day on May 8 and the Mexican community’s celebration of Mother’s Day on May 10, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas attended the Israel Gifts of Hope gathering with mothers who have lost children to gun violence.

“The Israel Gifts of Hope gathering exemplified the message of ‘Hope, Love and Peace’ by providing families and friends a space to grieve and commemorate their lost loved ones,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for many, and I was honored to take part in this day with people fighting to make a difference in the lives of families.”

Israel Gifts of Hope Foundation was founded by the parents and siblings of Israel Aragon Jr. after he was tragically killed due to gun violence. The foundation works to support the family and friends of victims of violence in Chicago communities by bringing together people who have gone through similar situations to spread awareness and give hope to those who have suffered loss.Gifts Of Hope2

The gathering was held on May 7 in Drake Gardens, a community garden in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago. Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez also co-sponsored the event. 

“Violence in our communities leaves a hole in the lives of the families and loved ones of victims,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Truly addressing the root causes of violence means investing in our communities. Public safety means making sure every person has access to quality education, safe water, healthy food, and other resources necessary to support them from the time they are born onward.”

The Fiscal Year 2023 budget included increases in funding for various community-based programs including after school programing for teens, early childhood education and job training opportunities. Additionally, a law creating a Crime Reduction Task Force was recently signed.

Gifts Of Hope3For more information on the Israel Gifts of Hope Foundation and additional violence prevention and response services, visit here.

Category: Press Releases

040722HAO00427CHICAGO – Thanks to a new law supported by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Illinois will take a hard look at addressing rising rates of crime in the state.

“The root causes of violence do not have just one fix,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “Having a diverse set of participants, including justice-involved members of the public, people from civil liberties and domestic violence prevention organizations and more will give survivors of violence a true seat at the table in addressing violence in our communities.”

The Crime Reduction Task Force will be made up of a bipartisan group of senators and representatives, alongside law enforcement, advocates, legal and criminal justice professionals and survivors tasked with exploring ways to reduce crime in Illinois and presenting a report to the General Assembly and governor with their findings.

Additionally, the new law signed Tuesday will create a Violent Crime Witness Protection Fund to give greater protections to victims and witnesses of crime. It will also create the Co-Responder Pilot Program in multiple downstate and suburban cities to prioritize crisis intervention, trauma-centered support and case management when it comes to preventing crimes.

“Everyone in every zip code should feel comfortable being able to walk down the street,” said State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), sponsor of the new law. “No matter where you are, who you are or where you live, you should deserve to feel comfortable and safe. This measure does that by expanding witness protection and by incorporating the voices and needs of stakeholders and survivors.”

The task force’s recommendations will be presented to the General Assembly and the governor by March of 2024. The law goes into effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

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