testingSPRINGFIELD – A measure spearheaded by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) that would prohibit standardized tests for Illinois’ youngest students passed the Senate Education Committee Tuesday.

“Studies show that younger children are best engaged when encouraged to explore and play, and that’s not prioritized when teachers are worried about preparing students for a test,” said Pacione-Zayas, a longtime advocate for education. “Even more, young children are still in the throes of intellectual and emotional development, making standardized tests developmentally inappropriate.”

Currently, the federal government requires standardized testing for students in third grade and older but does not mandate it for students in pre-K through second grade. The Illinois State Board of Education is considering allowing optional standardized tests for those younger students.

Senate Bill 3986, also known as the Too Young to Test Act, would prohibit ISBE from developing or administering standardized tests for students pre-K though second grade, except for the case of diagnostic 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.

Pacione-Zayas is working in collaboration with an organization, Illinois Families for Public Schools, to advance this legislation. They say that in a time when children are rapidly developing, their tests scores are not reliable to where they may actually be developmentally.

“Standardized tests at the upper grade levels are already stressful enough. Younger students and their parents should not be pressured into taking optional tests to prepare for those future required ones,” Pacione-Zayas said.

SB 3986 passed the Senate Education Committee and now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – Following Gov. JB Pritzker’s annual State of the State and budget address, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) released a statement reacting to the governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget:

“After an unprecedented two years, we are still working to make sure Illinois families have access to the resources they need to not only survive, but also thrive as we work toward recovery.

“Caring for our children and young people is a fundamental priority because they serve as a barometer for community well-being. If the children are well, the parents and adult caregivers are well, and the environment is safe and clean, then it indicates that society is well. This is even more true now with the impact of compounding stressors imposed by the pandemic that only revealed existing deep disparities in school districts throughout the state. By investing over $350 million in the Evidence-Based Funding Formula, $54 million in the Early Childhood Block Grant, supporting proposals to reverse the teacher shortage, and facilitating access to mental and behavioral health, the proposed budget makes an effort to right the course by holistically supporting our young children, students, teachers and families.

“However, I look forward to deeper discussion with colleagues and the Governor’s office to ensure families with limited access to financial resources are able to benefit from an expanded Earned Income Credit, new Child Tax Credit, rental and mortgage relief, and seed deposits for Child Savings Accounts. When we equip families with tools for financial stability, it fuels local economies and sets them on a course for improved life outcomes.

“Lastly, Chicago has seen a gut-wrenching increase in reported violence; however, it was not unforeseeable due to past funding disparities with affordable housing, violence prevention, public education, economic development, and social services. Collective advocacy for increased and equitable investments will continue to be important for communities historically marginalized by past failed policy. From investing in community-based organizations through the Reimagine Public Safety Act to helping law enforcement agencies purchase body cameras and launch an emergency co-responder model for mental health crises, multiple measures in the proposed budget will help protect and support individuals in our communities.

“As I hear from residents of the 20th district in the coming months, I look forward to making sure the priorities of our community are heard.”

Category: Press Releases

Vaccine5CHICAGO – With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) has been proactive in ensuring residents of the district she represents have access to vaccines, booster shots and flu shots right before and after the holidays.

“My goal has always been to spread awareness about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is more important than ever amidst this recent spike in cases,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Throughout December and the first couple weeks of January, my office has sponsored, hosted or promoted five vaccine clinics with even more to come.”

Sen. Pacione-Zayas has also been active in promoting educational materials regarding the vaccines to help combat vaccine hesitancy, as well as providing residents with resources to access vaccines in Chicago in between the various vaccination events.

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Category: Press Releases

View a PDF of the statement here.

CHICAGO, January 7, 2022 – Some members of the Chicago delegation of the Illinois General Assembly, some of which are parents and former CPS students, support a safe return to school. Our constituents have expressed concerns and anxiety regarding the return to in-person learning following the large uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

We have consistently engaged in conversations with Chicago Public Schools throughout the pandemic and continue to offer the following recommendations as Chicago Public Schools cancel classes this week following a vote from the Chicago Teachers Union to opt for remote work amid the surge:

  • Expand capacity to stand-up vaccine clinics with extended hours in more schools beyond the four static sites;
  • Adopt an adaptive pause to launch remote learning and develop mutually agreed upon safety metrics;
  • Leverage community partners to increase participation of CPS families who opt-in to regular COVID-19 testing; or make weekly COVID-19 testing required like 34 other school districts across the state; and
  • Ensure sufficient distribution of N95 or KN95 masks for students, staff and educators.

We recognize that the issues go beyond classrooms because students live in the context of their communities and families. Many students come from households who may have intergenerational members, family members with chronic health conditions or who are vaccine-hesitant, and family members who are frontline workers.

We come together to try to leverage state help and resources in the hope of speeding up the safe return to in-person learning in Chicago Public Schools. We have reached out to the governor’s office, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois State Board of Education and other state agencies to clarify return to school policies in Illinois and bring additional testing, faster results and increased supplies for students and their families.

Many of us have been distributing masks and educational materials throughout our communities since the beginning of the pandemic. When the vaccine became widely available, we have been hosting vaccine and booster clinics regularly. We are determined to work together to find solutions as the state works toward recovery.

We support a safe return to in-person learning that protects everyone’s health so we can give our students the education they deserve and ensure educators and staff are in safe work conditions. We are committed to work in creative ways through State government to leverage resources and services to minimize adverse impact with our students and school communities.

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Category: Press Releases

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